FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Sometimes, despite a team giving its best effort, it still comes up short. And that was the case for the Richmond Senior High School varsity football team as it was on the road Friday at Jack Britt High School.
The Raiders (4-3, 2-1 SAC), who hadn’t played a game outside of Raiders Stadium in over a month, fell to the Buccaneers (4-3, 2-1 SAC) 41-20 in the Sandhills Athletic Conference matchup.
Even as this is the inaugural season of the SAC, Richmond and Jack Britt aren’t strangers to one another. In the 2015 state playoffs, the Raiders ousted the Buccaneers 29-28; and also beat them handily in week four of both the 2014 (49-24) and 2013 (62-37) regular seasons. The last time Richmond lost to Jack Britt, aside from Friday, was in the 2012 state playoffs, which was a 56-52 tally.
In what has been a team that head coach Bryan Till has regularly called “resilient” and has noted its tough, physical play on both sides of the ball, Friday’s effort wasn’t enough to get past a speedy Buccaneers team that scored on four of its first five possessions.
“We didn’t play well tonight,” Till said, simply. “We didn’t make the plays when we had the chance on defense. And we made way too many mental mistakes.”
Richmond’s defense, which has played shutdown-caliber football the past two weeks, struggled to gain its footing early on. It allowed a season-high 406 total yards of offense to the Buccaneers, and also gave up 210 rushing yards, which is considerably higher than the total number of offensive yards it gave up the week previous (173 yards to Pinecrest High School).
Outscoring the Raiders 12-0 in the first quarter, Jack Britt’s defense forced an early Richmond three-and-out. On the ensuing offensive possession, the Buccaneers took over at their own 30-yard line and marched down the field on a 14-play, 70-yard drive, which resulted in junior running back Glenn Young finding the end zone from three yards out. Junior kicker Sam McKeithen’s extra point attempt was blocked.
After another short offensive series by Richmond, Jack Britt took only 0:44 seconds to notch its second touchdown of the night. Junior quarterback Brennan Shortridge connected with senior wide receiver Barry Elliott for an 82-yard scoring play. Shortridge failed to convert the two-point conversion, and finished the night 9-of-14 passing with 196 yards and three passing touchdowns.
The Buccaneers led 19-0 in the second quarter before Richmond finally etched its way onto the scoreboard on its fifth drive of the night. Following a freshman quarterback Caleb Hood interception on the previous drive, the Raiders got the chains moving forward with a six-play, 77-yard scoring drive. After hitting three receivers, which the biggest gain was a 29-yard catch and run by junior wideout Malik Stanback, Hood handed the ball off to senior running back Dante Miller, who powered his way in from four yards out. Kicker Victor Lucero missed the extra point attempt.
In what shouldn’t be overlooked, Hood and the Raiders offense had a better second half after trailing 26-6 at the break. The Raiders offense put up 326 yards of total offense, 250 of which came via Hood’s throwing arm. He finished the night 19-for-33 (a new career high in completions and pass attempts in a single game), with one passing touchdown, but also tossed two interceptions. Hood, who has established himself as a dual-threat quarterback, rushed for 25 yards on six attempts.
Freshman quarterback Caleb Hood (12) threw for a career high 250 passing yards on 19 completions in Friday’s loss to Jack Britt.
Spreading the wealth, Hood hit six different receivers on the night, with Stanback leading the way with five catches for 94 yards. Senior receiver Dashaun Wallace wasn’t far behind with six grabs for 87 yards. Also making catches for the Raiders were seniors Jaleen Balwin (four-for-34 yards), Clint Snipes (one-for-14 yards), Kaleb Douglas (one-for-eight yards) and junior Jordyn Wall (one-for-13 yards).
Attempting to mount a second-half comeback, Richmond failed to erase the 20-point deficit. Each team scored two touchdowns in the second half, with all four scores coming in the fourth quarter. Young (20 rushes, 109 yards) scored his second and third rushing touchdowns on the night.
For Richmond, the fourth quarter was the Dante Miller show, (who finished with 10 carries, 48 yards, one rushing touchdown) as he sparked the Raiders’ sideline when he returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown with 11:28 remaining. Later, capping off a 10-play, 80-yard drive, Hood lobbed a ball to the back left corner of the end zone and found Wallace for an 11-yard score. Lucero’s PAT was good.
Penalties also played a large role in Richmond’s loss, as it tallied 16 on the night and racked up 142 total penalty yards.
“Our kids fought (tough) the whole time,” Till noted when asked about positive takeaways from Friday’s loss.
Currently, Richmond sits in fourth place of the SAC standings at 2-1. Scotland County (3-0) leads the way, with Seventy-First (2-0) and Jack Britt (2-1) ahead of the Raiders.
With four SAC games remaining on the schedule to finish out the year, the Raiders will look to get back in the win column Friday on the road at Hoke County High School (0-7, 0-3). The Bucks lost to Scotland 61-12 in week seven. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.