SANFORD — Sticking to its game plan, the Richmond Raider football team started Sandhills Athletic Conference play with a big win on Friday.
Notching their second win in as many weeks, the Raiders extended their conference winning streak dating back to 2018 to two dozen games with a 38-10 victory over Southern Lee High School.
At the onset of the week, head coach Bryan Till said the team was focused on winning one game at a time in hopes of winning Richmond’s fifth straight SAC title.
The Raiders checked off the first box on that list thanks to a career night from senior quarterback Emoni McBride, who had three total touchdowns. McBride rushed in the game’s first score before adding a personal best two passing TDs.
Richmond’s defense also shut down its opponent for the second straight week, holding the Cavaliers to 170 yards of total offense. The Raiders’ defense forced six punts and two fumbles on eight of Southern Lee’s 11 drives.
The first quarter was all Richmond, which jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Deja vu struck for the Raiders on the first play of the game, as Richmond recovered a fumble when running back Tyrice Douglas coughed it up in the backfield.
Taking over at the Cavs’ 19-yard line, McBride took advantage of the short field with a 5-yard rushing score three plays later. Making a read on the defense, McBride ran in on the QB keeper.
Sophomore Billy West hit the first of his five extra point attempts to make it 7-0 with 10:49 left.
Following a three-and-out by Southern Lee, Richmond drove deep in the red zone and settled for a 22-yard chip shot field goal from West, his first of the season.
The Cavaliers (1-4) got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter when Bryan McCollum split the uprights for a 34-yard field goal.
McBride (9-of-18, career-high 138 yards) captained a 6-play, 65-yard scoring drive on the ensuing possession to put the Raiders back up by two possessions.
Keeping the ball, McBride scrambled for gains of 31 yards and 16 yards to get into the red zone. On 2nd-and-6, McBride connected with junior wide receiver Jada Zimmerman over the middle for a 9-yard passing score.
Zimmerman’s first touchdown grab of the season, coupled with West’s PAT, made it 17-3 with 8:11 left in the second.
The Cavs chipped away again when quarterback Robbie Sims (10-of-18, 141 yards) threw a 68-yard catch and run score to Brett Tate-Blanks. McCollum’s PAT cut it to a 17-10 lead.
A swing in momentum came for the Raiders late in the half when senior linebacker Frazion Steele registered a 65-yard scoop and score.
With the Cavaliers driving inside of Richmond’s 25-yard line, Sims fumbled when a host of defenders tried to tackle him.
Steele was there to collect the loose ball and turned and ran the length of the field for the defensive score. It was his second turnover (first fumble recovery) in five games this fall and first score.
Senior linebacker Isaiah Wall sacked Sims with 4:04 left in the quarter and Richmond took a two-touchdown lead into the break.
Richmond’s defense shut out the Cavaliers in the final two stanzas, while McBride and the offense added two more touchdowns for good measure.
On their first drive of the third quarter, the Raiders started at the Cavs’ 23-yard line. A couple of runs from senior running back Taye Spencer (18 carries, 106 yards) and a facemask penalty moved the sticks.
Junior tailback Jaliel Green broke through the line later in the drive for 29 of his 93 rushing yards on 6 attempts. On the next play, McBride aired out a touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Raymond Knotts from 27 yards.
Knotts, who also hauled in his first career varsity touchdown, made a leaping grab over a defender in the front left corner of the end zone. West rang true again to extend Richmond’s lead to 31-10 with 9:48 left in the third.
Penalties plagued both teams for the majority of the third quarter, resulting in stalled drives. Spencer registered Richmond’s final touchdown with just under two minutes left in the frame.
Taking a handoff from McBride, Spencer burst through the line up the middle from 14 yards out. It was his team-leading fourth rushing score of the season.
Neither team was able to find the end zone in the fourth quarter, seeing both squads combine for three punts and a turnover on downs to end it.
Richmond tallied 403 yards of total offense, its second straight game with at least 400 yards. The Raiders outran the Cavaliers 265 yards to 29 yards, and McBride added 47 rushing yards on 4 carries.
The Raiders (2-3, 1-0 SAC) close out a four-week road trip next Saturday against Pinecrest High School, one of their two 4A conference opponents.
The Patriots (2-2, 0-0 SAC) had a bye week on Friday. In their meeting a season ago, the Raiders edged Pinecrest 28-21.
The Richmond Observer will publish a preview article for next Friday’s away game later in the week.
The Richmond Observer will publish a photo gallery of Friday’s win over the weekend. For updates on all Richmond County sports, follow us on Twitter @ROSports_.