Home Local Sports Raiders Football Returns to Win Column; Uses Dual-Threat Quarterback Caleb Hood to...

Raiders Football Returns to Win Column; Uses Dual-Threat Quarterback Caleb Hood to Defeat Pine Forest 40-14

Freshman Caleb Hood tallied 233 yards of Richmond's 416 yards of total offense in Monday's 40-14 win over Pine Forest.
Photo courtesy of Kyle Pillar.

FAYETTEVILLE – Under clear skies, much different from Friday night’s forecast, the Richmond Senior High School football team found itself back in the win column, as the Raiders rolled over non-conference opponent Pine Forest High School 40 –14.

Monday’s game was a rescheduling of Friday’s initial meeting due to inclement weather. But the only weather-related incident Monday was Richmond’s (2-1) storming offense, which thundered past the Trojans’ (0-3) ill-prepared defense. Outdoing their opponent tremendously on both sides of the ball, the Raiders amassed 416 yards of total offense to Pine Forest’s 300 yards.

Regrouping from a disappointing 38-13 loss in week two to No. 1 Wake Forest High School (which won the 4-AA North Carolina state championship in 2016), the Raiders looked like the team that opened the season in dominating fashion, scoring all 40 of their points in the first half.

“We had to settle down a little bit after the fast start,” head coach Bryan Till said. “Offensively, our guys came out guns blazing, and I couldn’t be happier. But they’ve got to be able to finish the game in the second half.”

Freshman quarterback Caleb Hood had his best game of his young career, following a strong performance against a tough Wake Forest defense in which he tossed two touchdowns. Hood picked apart the Trojans’ defense, tallying 159 yards through the air on 7-of-12 passing. He connected with three different receivers for two touchdowns.

Hood also had a team-high 74 yards rushing, proving his ability to escape the pocket when under pressure. His longest run of the night went for 62 yards, and ended in his only rushing touchdown of game. He finished the night responsible for 233 yards of the Raiders’ total offense.

Having never trailed in the game, the Raiders got off to their fastest start of the season. Senior kick returner Kaleb Douglas took the opening kickoff back 95 yards for the game’s first six points. Junior placekicker Kyle Goodwin added the point after the touchdown.

Senior running back Dante Miller (21) eludes Pine Forest defenders Monday. He finished the night with one rushing touchdown. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Pillar)

But Pine Forest also had an explosive start on offense, scoring on its second play of the game with 11:25 remaining in the first quarter. Trojans’ freshman quarterback Jaden Jones handed the ball off to senior tailback Lavonte Carter, who raced into the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown, Pine Forest’s longest play of the night.

Carter, who powered the Trojans’ offense all night, finished with a game-high 139 yards on 17 carries, adding one touchdown. Jones struggled against the Raiders defense, going 11-of-20 passing for 90 yards, no touchdowns and one interception (Richmond senior strong safety Jaquan Everett snagged his first pick of the year at the 6:33 mark in the second quarter).

The first quarter, which saw seven of the game’s nine scoring plays, was a back-and-forth affair early on, but in a 2:19 span, the Raiders connected on three different scoring plays to shift the momentum their way.

Goodwin got the streak started by drilling a 27-yard field goal on Richmond’s second possession, and on the ensuing Trojans’ drive, junior punter Caleb Ryan had his punt from his own 15-yard line blocked by Richmond senior Shane Summey. The ball trickled out of the back of the end zone for a safety, giving Richmond a 12-7 lead.

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After getting the ball back after the safety, Hood needed only one play to extend the lead. At his own 48-yard line, Hood dropped back and let one fly, finding senior wide receiver Dashaun Wallace streaking down the right sideline for a 52-yard score. Goodwin’s PAT opened the lead to 19–7, with 5:19 still remaining in the opening quarter. And Richmond’s offense never looked back. 

Wallace, who led the Raiders with three receptions on the night, collected a game-high 122 receiving yards. All three of his catches went for at least 20 yards, and he finished with two touchdowns. Also chipping in with the aerial attack for the Raiders were senior wide receivers Clint Snipes (two receptions, 23 yards) and Jaleen Baldwin (two receptions, 14 yards).

Senior wideout Dashaun Wallace (13) celebrates his first of two touchdowns on the night with teammate Cody Scott (18). (Photo courtesy of Kyle Pillar)

“Caleb’s (Hood) decision-making is getting better,” Till said of his true freshman quarterback. “In the first half, he played really well and made smart decisions. He’s got great field vision and is able to get passes down to his receivers.”

In conjunction with Hood’s passing game, Richmond utilized a plethora of running backs to accumulate 257 total rushing yards. Relying heavily on the offensive line to create space, senior tailback Dante Miller totaled 68 yards on 12 carries, and scored his team-leading fourth rushing touchdown of the year.

Douglas (30 yards), Baldwin (41 yards), senior running back Jeremy Wall (29 yards) and sophomore running back Jaheim Covington (16 yards) added to the ground game.

The Raiders finished out the half with a Miller three-yard sprint up the middle, and Hood captained a late-half drive that ended with his second strike of the night to Wallace, a 65-yard dart with 0:17 remaining.

Pine Forest scored its last points of the game with 2:12 remaining in the first quarter, when junior tailback Dominic Roberto found a hole for a 30-yard score. The second half saw no scoring from either sideline. 

Richmond’s defense also rebounded nicely after the Wake Forest game, forcing the Trojans to a punt or turnover of eight of its ten offensive possessions. Using pressure to get to Jones, the defense collected a season-high six sacks, while also only allowing Pine Forest to convert five of its 13 third-down opportunities.

Richmond’s Savion Streeter (42) tackles Pine Forest running back Lavonte Carter (5) for a loss of yards Monday. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Pillar)

The Raiders will have a short week to prepare for their final non-conference opponent of the year, as they’ll welcome in David W. Butler High School Friday, Sept. 8, at Raiders Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

“We’re going to prepare (for Butler) by focusing on x’s and o’s,” Till said, while commenting how much he’s enjoyed his first three games as Richmond’s head coach. “We’ll run through game situations and different formations offensively and defensively and go out Friday ready to win.”

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