ROCKINGHAM — A halftime challenge from junior varsity head football coach Ryan Mercer was answered in winning fashion on Thursday.
The Richmond JV football team erased a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to return to the win column, defeating Hoke County High School 14-12.
Using two passing scores, one each from sophomore quarterback Caden Nolan and freshman quarterback BJ Hinson, the JV Raiders scored all of their points inside the seven-minute mark of the last quarter.
Also helping put the JV Raiders over the edge in the Sandhills Athletic Conference matchup was sophomore kicker Jake Veach, who was perfect on both of his point-after attempts.
The JV Bucks (1-4, 1-1 SAC) scored on their second-to-last drive in the first half and their opening series in the third quarter.
On the second play of their first scoring drive, the JV Bucks found the end zone on a 12-yard rushing score. Going for the two-point conversion, a host of JV Raiders made the stop to keep the score 6-0 with 3:46 to go in the half.
That was followed by a 13-play, 73-yard scoring drive by Hoke County to begin the second half. The JV Bucks capped the series with a five-yard passing score.
Again, the Richmond special teams unit stuffed the rushing attempt on the two-point try. Hoke County opened its lead to 12-0 with 5:18 remaining in the third stanza.
Richmond’s first two drives of the second half combined for 60 yards of offense, but ended in an interception and a punt.
The momentum change for the JV Raiders started at the JV Bucks’ 48-yard line with 6:13 on the regulation clock.
Splitting Nolan and Hinson at quarterback, freshman running back Elijah Ingram (12 carries, 56 yards) picked up 14 yards and a first down on the first two plays. Following a short run and a six-yard completion to freshman Chance Crowder, a penalty moved the ball to the 10-yard line.
On the next play, Hinson (2-for-2, 16 yards) dropped back and made a completion to Nolan at the five-yard line, who finished the 10-yard scoring play by darting into the end zone.
A successful PAT by Veach cut the deficit to 12-7 with 3:49 to play.
Richmond’s defense forced a quick three-and-out on the next Hoke County drive and the JV Raiders started at their own 24-yard line.
With the clock winding, the JV Raiders took eight plays to find the end zone and secure the win.
A couple of short gains by Ingram, a personal foul call and two catch and runs to Crowder from Nolan moved Richmond across midfield.
Two plays after a first down catch by Crowder, he hauled in the game-winning touchdown pass from Nolan (11-for-22, 135 yards). Airing out a pass, Nolan hit Crowder in stride for a 37-yard score.
Veach’s second made PAT made it a 14-12 advantage with 1:18 to play in the game.
An unsuccessful drive by the JV Bucks led to a turnover on downs on four straight plays and Nolan took a knee in victory formation.
During that final Hoke County series, a sack on second down registered a 14-yard loss. The JV Bucks went for it on third and fourth-and-27, but both pass attempts fell incomplete.
Earlier in the second half, sophomore linebacker Tate Craven recorded a strip sack in the third quarter. There to fall on it and give Richmond possession was freshman defensive lineman Jeremiah Covington.
Crowder led the team with nine receptions for 113 receiving yards and added 39 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Richmond had 241 yards of total offense (151 passing, 90 rushing), while the defense limited Hoke County to 191 yards (134 passing, 57 rushing).
The JV Raiders (2-4, 2-1 SAC) will begin preparing for another home game next Thursday against Union Pines High School (5-1, 1-1 SAC). Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m.
Sports editor’s note: Richmond scorekeeper Reggie Till and Deon Cranford contributed to this article.