Rockingham wins rivalry game with Hamlet
Last Wednesday, the Rockingham Middle football team ended a three-game skid against Hamlet Middle with a dominating 36-6 road win.
The Rockets entered the game on a three-game winning streak and were heavily favored against their rivals, but a quick start by the Red Rams was a reminder to everyone that rivalry games can surprise you.
Hamlet started its opening drive at its own 30 yard-line. After the Red Rams lost six yards on their first play from scrimmage, Hamlet quarterback Michael Osentowski connected with Levontae Fisher for 31 yards to move the chains.
Later in the drive, Osentowski found a wide open Cailin Moore streaking down the Hamlet sideline. Moore made the grab and was downed at the Rokingham 1-yard line for a 32-yard gain. On the next play, Keith Cummings bullied his way into the end zone.
The 2-point conversion failed, but the Red Rams had a 6-0 lead with 4:14 remaining in the first quarter. The impressive 8-play, 70-yard scoring drive gave the home team’s fans something to cheer about, but unfortunately, that excitement would be short-lived.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Rockets took over on their own 40-yard line. Rockingham running back Chance Crowder took a handoff from quarterback Gabe Clark and sprinted 60 yards untouched to paydirt. Clark carried the ball in for the 2-point conversion and the Rockets took a lead, 8-6, that they would not relinquish with 3:53 remaining in the opening quarter.
Hamlet was stymied by a costly holding penalty on its next possession leading to a three-and-out and keeping the momentum with the Rockets. A short punt combined with a great return set the Rockets up at the Hamlet 30-yard line.
Following a holding call, Rockingham was facing 2nd-and-20 from the Hamlet 40. Clark pulled down a high snap, faked a handoff and darted through an opening for a 25-yard pickup to the Hamlet 15-yard line.
Two plays later Crowder pushed his way in from 3 yards out for his second rushing touchdown of the game. The 2-point conversion failed, but the visitors had a 14-6 lead at the 6:34 mark in the second quarter.
Despite another long connection between Osentowski and Moore (19 yards) during Hamlet’s next possession, the drive failed and the Red Rams were once again forced to punt. Crowder hauled in the punt at the Rockingham 40-yard line and returned it 60 yards for an apparent touchdown. However, a holding call nullified the big play and the Rockets took over at their own 45-yard line.
For the second time in the game, Rockingham needed only one play to score. Clark hit C.J. Covington near the home sideline and Covington broke one tackle and then ran the remaining distance untouched for a 55-yard touchdown. Crowder carried it in on the 2-point conversion attempt, increasing the Rockingham lead to 20-6 with 1:21 remaining in the first half.
The Rockets opened the second half at their own 45-yard line. A 30-yard carry from Shamir Jones, a 10-yard carry by Clark and a 15-yard carry by Crowder is all Rockingham needed to add to its lead.
Crowder’s carry capped the quick scoring drive giving him his third rushing touchdown of the game. The 2-point conversion attempt was short, but the Rockets were ahead 28-6 with 6:09 remaining in the third.
Crowder was having an exceptional day on offense and decided to add a key defensive stat as well. On the second play of Hamlet’s next possession, Crowder went up in traffic and picked off a Hamlet pass at the Rockingham 40-yard line.
Runs by Clark, Jones, and Keviyon McManus set Rockingham up at the Hamlet 28-yard line. The Rockets were stalled momentarily by a holding call, but a 22-yard pass from Clark to Crowder gave Rockingham a first down at the Hamlet 20-yard line just as the third quarter clock expired.
On the opening play of the fourth quarter, Crowder scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a 20-yard run. He also caught a pass from Clark on the 2-point conversion attempt for the final point of the game giving the visitor’s a 36-6 advantage and triggering a running clock.
With the loss, Hamlet’s season came to an end, but with the win, Rockingham (4-1) secured a spot in the conference championship game. The Rockets will face Carver Middle in the title bout on Wednesday at 6 p.m at Scotland High School’s Pate Stadium.
Middle school cross country meet takes place at Hinson Lake
Last Thursday, Hinson Lake played host to a Southeastern Middle School Athletic Conference cross country meet. All of the conference’s schools were represented in the event.
In the girls meet, there were 49 runners from the 10 participating schools. Sandy Grove Middle (26 points) won the day narrowly edging out West Hoke Middle (29 points), followed by Carver Middle (68 points) in third.
Ellerbe Middle (74 points) finished fourth, Hamlet Middle was fifth (88 points), and Rockingham Middle (109 points) took seventh. Cordova Middle did not place due to not meeting the minimum number of runners.
Finishing first in the girls’ meet was Carver Middle’s Khloe Radford followed by Ella Sheppard (West Hoke) and Harley Hardin (West Hoke) in second and third, respectively. Sandy Grove Middle’s Alondra Cardena (4th) and Charlotte Santiago (5th) rounded out the top five.
Richmond County top-20 finishers were Emily Valencia (Hamlet, 7th), Dayana Franco (Rockingham, 9th), Janet Morales (Hamlet, 12th), Gaela Goodwin (Ellerbe, 17th), Macie King (Ellerbe, 18th), Alexis Wilson (Ellerbe, 19th), and Kalani King (Ellerbe, 20th).
The top five teams in the boys’ meet were East Hoke Middle (19 points), Sandy Grove Middle (48 points), Hamlet Middle (50 points), Carver Middle (67 points) and Rockingham Middle (84).
Ellerbe Middle (111) and Cordova Middle (112) finished in seventh and eighth place, respectively.
Of the 55 runners that took the track, it was East Hoke Middle’s Josiah McCallum who crossed the finish line first followed by Hamlet Middle’s Eduardo Soriano. Also finishing in the top five were Giovanni Patterson (East Hoke, 3rd), Christopher Warren (Sandy Grove, 4th), and Daniel Gomez (Cordova, 5th).
Other top-20 finishers from Richmond County were Angel Huerta (Hamlet, 10th), Antonio Huerta (Hamlet, 13th), Ben Sibley (Ellerbe, 17th), and Liam Ellis (Rockingham, 18th).
The runners will meet again at Spring Hill Middle School for the conference championship meet on Thursday at 4 p.m.