SANFORD — The first football victory of the season for Richmond Senior High School came in dominating fashion during Thursday’s junior varsity game.
Beginning Sandhills Athletic Conference play, the JV Raiders rolled to a 41-12 victory on the road at Southern Lee High School.
All of Richmond’s points were scored in the first half, as the JV Raiders were able to score on both sides of the ball and won the turnover battle.
“I’m really proud of the guys and the way they responded tonight,” head coach Ryan Mercer said. “After giving up a long drive to open the game we came back and settled in and played Richmond Raider football.
“I challenged the guys after the loss to Myers Park to find their ‘why’ and play for it,” he added. “It was good to see it come out tonight.”
The JV Cavaliers scored on their first drive of the game, a 26-yard pitch to the left, to go ahead 6-0 after the two-point try was no good.
Richmond got into the red zone on its first drive thanks to a long burst from freshman running back Chance Crowder, but a fumble gave the ball back to the JV Cavs.
But just two plays later, Southern Lee coughed the ball up and sophomore Esaias Brunson fell on top of it to regain possession.
Taking over at the 15-yard line, Crowder scored the first of his three touchdowns in the game. He took a handoff from freshman quarterback BJ Hinson and ran up the middle untouched. Sophomore Jack Veach added the first of his five made point-after attempts.
On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore David Oliver forced a fumble on the return that was grabbed out of the air by sophomore Chamaure Shaw. He returned it down to the Southern Lee 11-yard line.
As a result of the first play of the drive, Hinson pitched it right to freshman Juelz Smith for another quick score. The PAT was no good, but Richmond took a 13-6 lead.
Rolling into the second quarter, the JV Raiders’ defense made a stop on fourth down to stop a driving Southern Lee offense at the Richmond 16-yard line. Although the JV Raiders made it inside the JV Cavs’ 30-yard line, they also turned it over on downs.
But sophomore linebacker Tate Craven made up for the missed opportunity, scoring three plays later.
A backward pass from Southern Lee that hit the intended receiver’s helmet landed at the 19-yard line, where Craven finished the head’s up play with a scoop and score.
Veach’s PAT was true and Richmond opened its lead to 20-6. Those seven points were the first of a 28-point second quarter for the JV Raiders.
Two plays into the next Southern Lee possession, a bad snap fell to the ground and sophomore Jaylen Wilson recovered the ball at JV Cavs’ 44-yard line.
After a penalty backed Richmond up to its own 46-yard line, Crowder wasted no time to find pay dirt a second time.
Splitting the tackles to the right side, he finished the 54-yard touchdown run by cutting all the way back across the field. Another successful PAT from Veach put the JV Raiders ahead 27-6.
The Richmond defense backed Southern Lee up inside its own 5-yard line on the next series, which resulted in another turnover on downs. From the 3-yard line on first down, Crowder completed his scoring trifecta with a plunge up the middle.
The lead grew to 34-6 after another Veach PAT between the uprights.
Richmond’s final score of the half, and the game, came with 50 seconds left in the second quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Caden Nolan threw a 30-yard touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Carter Visingard, who undercut the defensive back for a diving catch. One more PAT from Veach made it a 41-6 lead at the break.
The JV Cavs scored their final touchdown on a 35-yard pitch to the left in the fourth quarter. Freshman defensive back Kingstyn Kirby also intercepted a pass in the second half.
With under three minutes to go in regulation, the game ended early due to an injury on the field to a Southern Lee (2-2, 0-1 SAC) player. The injury came on the ensuing kickoff after the JV Cavs’ touchdown.
“We have to come back ready to work on Monday with a big game at Pinecrest next week,” Mercer closed.
The JV Raiders (1-3, 1-0 SAC) will play again on the road next Thursday at Pinecrest High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Sports editor’s note: No individual or team stats were available at the time of publication. Head coach Ryan Mercer and offensive coordinator Patrick Hope contributed to his article.