ROCKINGHAM — A two-week hiatus between games for the Richmond Senior High School junior varsity football team saw Thursday’s game end in something that hadn’t happened since Nov. 5, 2015 — a loss.
After seeing its Week 2 game against Butler High School canceled by Hurricane Dorian, the JV Raiders hosted Cardinal Gibbons High School in a non-conference matchup. Despite having a 13-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, Richmond would fall to the Crusaders by a final score of 21-20.
The loss snapped the JV Raiders’ 30-game winning streak, which saw perfect seasons the past three years. In Week 1 of the varsity slate this fall, Cardinal Gibbons ended Wake Forest High School’s 45-game winning streak.
Richmond was outscored 14-0 in the fourth quarter, and the two late scores, coupled with a pair of failed PAT attempts by Richmond earlier in the game, gave Cardinal Gibbons enough to earn the win.
“It felt like a first game for us again after not playing against Butler,” third-year head coach Patrick Hope said after the game. “We’re going to work from this moment forward. I’ve never been a coach who looks back at games whether they were wins or losses.
“The biggest thing about next week is we get to focus on us,” he added. “It’s our bye week and we can look at what Richmond’s JV football team needs to do to get better.”
Like their Week 1 win over Anson High School, the Raiders had a slow start in the first quarter. The offense committed two turnovers (an interception and a fumble) on its first two drives, and punted on its first drive of the second quarter.
Cardinal Gibbons jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 29.6 seconds left in the first quarter thanks to a six-yard passing touchdown from quarterback Connor Clark to wide receiver Nicholas Carbone.
Richmond sophomore defensive back Cason Douglas swung the game’s momentum in the Raiders’ favor at the 6:05 mark of the second quarter when he intercepted a Clark pass attempt inside the red zone. It was Douglas’ second pick of the season, and he returned it to the Richmond 17-yard line.
That turnover would start a six-play, 83-yard scoring drive for the Raiders. A big run by freshman running back Xavier Wall moved the ball into the Crusaders’ territory, but he fumbled the ball when he was tackled. Sophomore wide receiver Javares Stanback was in the neighborhood blocking, and plopped down on the ball at the Cardinal Gibbons’ 32-yard line.
Four plays later, sophomore quarterback Harley Honeycutt aired one out to Stanback down the right sideline, who caught the ball in traffic just inside the front pile on for a 29-yard score. Honeycutt would keep the ball on the two-point conversion play and cross the goal line to give the Raiders an 8-7 lead with 2:53 remaining in the half.
On Cardinal Gibbons’ next drive, sophomore defensive linemen Randy Hailey and Jayme Allen both came up with tackles for loss to make it a third-and-20 situation. On the next play, Douglas came in clutch, snagging his second interception of the game on a deflected ball at his own 35-yard line. Douglas scampered up field before being brought down at the Crusaders’ 31-yard line.
With 33 ticks left on the clock before halftime, Richmond marched the ball down to the one-yard line. One first-and-goal, Honeycutt laced a pass to sophomore tiger back Gabe Altman for his second passing score of the night. It was Altman’s first high school score, and following a failed two-point conversion, the Raiders took a 14-7 lead into the break.
The Raiders would score the lone touchdown of the third quarter, seeing sophomore running back Jamari Broady cap an eight-play, 85-yard scoring drive. On first-and-10 from the Crusaders’ 25-yard line, Broady took a handoff and swept left around the edge of the line. He broke several tackles inside the five-yard line before muscling his way in for his first rushing score of the season.
Richmond opted to go for two again, and this time Honeycutt was brought down at the line of scrimmage. With 3:40 to go in the third, the Raiders held a 20-7 lead.
“Gabe does such a great job as a blocker that I wanted to give him a reward by throwing him a ball for the touchdown,” Hope said. “Broady (who starts at cornerback) has taken a lot of reps all season at running back and he gave us a big boost there.”
The Crusaders would score their final two touchdowns just 5:36 apart in the fourth quarter. Running back Donovan Shepard ran in a score to end a seven-play, 49-yard drive from two yards out, and Cardinal Gibbons scored another rushing touchdown at the 3:32 mark.
The Crusaders failed on their first two-point conversion attempt, but made good on their second attempt when Clark hit Ian Evans to give the visiting team a 21-20 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Richmond failed to recover the ball, and Cardinal Gibbons scooped it up at Richmond’s 32-yard line. Although the Raider defense would force a turnover on downs, four straight pass attempts by Honeycutt on Richmond’s final series would fall incomplete and end the comeback attempt.
“The guys did show some perseverance tonight, even though we didn’t get the outcome we wanted,” Hope said. “We battled after Cason’s first interception and the defense put us in positions to score.
“Cason and the entire secondary played really well,” he added. “We just ran into a really good football game tonight.”
Honeycutt finished the game 11-of-21 passing for 86 yards, two scores and two interceptions. Wall was the team’s leading rusher with 82 yards on eight touches.
Richmond (1-1) will head into its bye week and prepare for its Sandhills Athletic Conference opener at Purnell Swett High School on Thursday, Sept. 26. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.