Home Local Sports Damaging defense turns into offense for Raiders in shutout win

Damaging defense turns into offense for Raiders in shutout win

Junior defensive end Zach Gardner (9), who had one sack and four assisted sacks, drags down Hoke County quarterback Brandon Saunders (4) in the first half. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

RAEFORD — There were two places the Richmond Raiders were camped out on Friday night — Hoke County’s offensive backfield and the end zone.

Competing in their second and final Sandhills Athletic Conference game against a 4A opponent, the Raiders saw their winning streak grow to 12 consecutive games against the Bucks.

As a result of a fast start on both sides of the ball, the Raiders earned a 41-0 victory over Hoke County High School.

It was the team’s first shutout of the season and career performances from a couple of offensive playmakers provided a large cushion from Richmond’s opening series.

Thanks to a stifling defensive effort, Richmond was able to use several short fields to score. 

The Raider defense dominated the opening half, forcing the Bucks to five consecutive three-and-out situations. Hoke County’s other two first-half possessions resulted in turnovers on downs. 

The Raiders held the Bucks to just 86 yards of total offense, including 85 passing yards and one rushing yard.

Richmond took just one snap to find the end zone to set the offensive pace. Senior running back Jaliel Green, who scored two rushing touchdowns, took the handoff and split left for a 37-yard rushing score. 

Junior kicker Billy West’s point-after attempt was good, putting Richmond ahead 7-0 with 9:46 left in the first quarter. 

On the next defensive series for Richmond, junior defensive end Zach Gardner got in the backfield for the first of his five total sacks (one solo, four assisted).

Senior defensive end Jacoby Martin, back for his second game of the season, recorded consecutive tackles-for-loss on the next Hoke County drive. Gardner forced the punt with a third-down sack of quarterback Brandon Saunders (13-of-26, 85 yards). 

After the first of two missed field goals by the Raiders in the first half, senior defensive back Jamison Jones knocked a pass attempt loose on third down to bring up another punt by the Bucks (2-5, 0-3 SAC). 

The Raiders started a four-play, 47-yard scoring drive, one of three straight drives to end in a touchdown, with some help with a defensive pass interference call. Moving the ball inside the red zone, it took just two more plays to score. 

Sophomore quarterback Domonic Tillman (12-of-15 passing) aired out a 14-yard touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Keonta Pegues. Cutting back to catch the ball, Pegues snuck inside the front left pylon for his first career varsity touchdown reception.

West was true for the second time and the Raiders led 14-0 with 9:17 to go in the second frame. 

Tillman, who accounted for a single-game career-high three total touchdowns, also had a single-game best 151 passing yards.

Martin (one solo sack, one assisted) teamed up with junior linebacker K’Mauri Morgan (four assisted sacks) for a sack on Saunders on the second play of Hoke County’s next drive. Martin added his solo sack on the next play to force another punt. 

On the first play of the drive, Tillman made a 24-yard completion to sophomore wide receiver Jayden Hamilton (five catches, 82 yards) over the middle, which moved the ball across midfield. 

Junior tailback Jordan Bostick got into the end zone on the next snap, a 48-yard dash down the right sideline. He muscled his way through a pair of defenders for the final few yards. 

West, who was 5-for-6 on PATs, split the uprights and Richmond’s lead grew to 21-0 with under seven minutes left in the first half. 

The Bucks’ first first down of the game came with 6:28 on the clock, but that drive stalled thanks to another visit to the backfield by Gardner on fourth-and-nine.


That turnover on downs gave Richmond the ball at its own 35-yard line and led to its final score of the first half. 

Tillman dumped off a screen pass to Drake who turned it into a 43-yard gain. A personal foul call after the play moved Richmond to the Hoke County three-yard line. 

On the quarterback keeper, Tillman scooted in on the next snap. The PAT made it 28-0 with 1:43 left in the second. 

Helping end the first half on a defensive high note, sophomore linebacker Terande Spencer stripped the ball loose after a completion. There to scoop it up was junior defensive back AJ Covington.

Richmond gave the ball back on a fumble a few plays later, but Morgan, Gardner and junior nose tackle Tate Simpson all got to Saunders for sacks to close out the final minute.

Receiving the second-half kickoff, Richmond had to punt on a three-and-out. But the bouncing ball hit the heel of a Hoke County player and junior Fred Isaac III recovered the live ball at the Bucks’ 34-yard line.

Taking advantage of the special teams miscue, Tillman connected with Hamilton for Richmond’s final passing score of the game. 

Catching the ball in the left flat on a screen, Hamilton broke numerous tackles and used his speed to finesse his way to the house for a 34-yard touchdown catch and run. It was his second of the season.

After West’s PAT, Richmond led 35-0 with 9:21 left in the third quarter.

Hoke County’s first possession of the second half resulted in another punt, one of five in the game. Richmond got a hand on it and started with a short field at the Bucks’ 49-yard line.

A Green 11-yard run, a Drake 11-yard reception, coupled with catches by Hamilton (eight yards) and Pegues (nine yards) set up the final score of the game.

Green (12 carries, 135 rushing yards) iced his big performance with a 10-yard rush up the middle, bullying his way into the end zone to make it 41-0 with just under five minutes to go in the third.

With the large lead, head coach Bryan Till started substitutions on both sides of the ball. Hoke County’s two fourth-quarter possessions resulted in a turnover on downs and the clock expiring.

Bostick added 45 rushing yards on three carries and Tillman rushed for 30 yards on eight rushes. 

Six different receivers — Drake, Green, Hamilton, Pegues, Nicholas Griggs and Braxton Jenks — each caught at least one pass.

The defense’s 19 total sacks (solo and assisted combined) recorded -52 yards. 

Richmond (2-5, 2-1 SAC) will travel to Union Pines High School (2-4, 1-1 SAC) next week to continue conference play. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

The Richmond Observer will publish a photo gallery of Friday’s win over Hoke County on Saturday.

Sports editor’s note: Richmond scorekeepers Bennie Howard and Reggie Till contributed to this article.

Sport’s editor’s note: A correction was made to this article to reflect Jordan Bostick’s rushing touchdown.

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Kyle Pillar is a 22-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on X @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.