Home Local Sports Raiders Football Struggles Against No. 1-Ranked Wake Forest; Lose 38-13

Raiders Football Struggles Against No. 1-Ranked Wake Forest; Lose 38-13

Richmond's Delon Wall (24) and Savion Streeter (42) try to slow down Wake Forest's Devon Lawrence in Friday's 38-13 loss.
Photo courtesy of Jimmy McDonald.

ROCKINGHAM – To beat the best, you have to play your best. That wasn’t the case for the Richmond Senior High School Raiders football team Friday night, as they hosted the reigning 2016 4-AA North Carolina state champion Wake Forest High School.

 

It was a fast start for the Cougars’ offense, and it was relentless, scoring five touchdowns, beating Richmond 38-13.

Deemed as one of the top high school football games of week two by Raleigh’s News and Observer, the No. 1- ranked Cougars did not disappoint. Returning 17 starters from last year’s title team, Wake Forest looked primed and ready to make another run at history.

The Raiders (1-1) simply didn’t have enough in the tank to power past the dominating Cougars (2-0) on either side of the ball. Undersized and overmatched, Richmond struggled all night as Wake Forest tallied 344 yards of total offense. Richmond had only 276 yards. Richmond also only converted one of its nine third down opportunities.

Using a balanced attack of running and passing, Wake Forest senior running back Devon Lawrence finished the night with a game-high 89 yards on 18 carries. Lawrence, and senior running back Marquis Dunn, both finished with two rushing touchdowns. 

Cougars junior running back Demarcus Jones added 54 yards on 12 carries, and Dunn picked up 44 yards on 11 touches. Senior quarterback Chris James went 4-of-9 passing, with 126 yards and one touchdown.

“Wake Forest is a tough, competitive football team,” head coach Bryan Till said. “They beat us physically tonight on both sides of the ball. We didn’t execute our plays well.” 

To open the game, Till’s team went a quick three-and-out (one of six in the game). Junior punter Kyle Goodwin pooched his kick, setting up the Cougars with great field position at their own 42-yard line.

On its opening drive, Wake Forest took only 100 seconds to storm down the field on a five-play, 58-yard touchdown drive. James connected with senior wide receiver John Jiles on a 37-yard strike to get down to the Richmond eight-yard line. Lawrence put the game’s first points on the board by scrambling through the Raider’s defensive line for an eight-yard score. Junior placekicker Nolan Parris tacked on the extra point.

The Raiders offense didn’t obtain its first first down until their third possession of the game. Richmond’s offense, which put up 402 yards of total offense in week one against Ronald W. Reagan High School, couldn’t maintain a steady rhythm for much of the night.

The offensive line was overpowered by Wake Forest’s defense, limiting Richmond’s dynamic duo of running backs, senior Dante Miller and sophomore Jaheim Covington, to just 129 combined yards. Miller had 85 yards on 12 attempts, and Covington gained 44 yards on six carries. In week one, Miller amassed 206 yards, with Covington adding 103 more.

Richmond’s freshman quarterback Caleb Hood, who made his first career home start, had a modest night on the stat sheet. He finished with 10-of-17 passing, with 146 yards, two touchdowns and fumbled (and recovered) the ball twice.

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With 6:58 remaining in the first quarter, and following a Richmond encroachment penalty at the start of Wake Forest’s second drive at their own 41-yard line, the Cougars took just 2:50 to matriculate the ball down the field. Relying heavily on running up the middle, the drive culminated in a 11-yard touchdown run by Dunn. Dunn received the handoff from James and tiptoed past several defenders on the left sideline, just squeezing inside the pylon.

At the end of the first quarter, Wake Forest had all the points it needed to win, leading 14-0. At the start of the second quarter, deep in Cougars territory, Hood attempted to convert on fourth and seven, but failed to connect with junior wide receiver Malik Stanback in the end zone.

Wake Forest scored twice more in the first half, to head to the locker room up 24-0. After a fake punt, which was converted for a 27-yard first down at the Richmond 11- yard line, Parris split the uprights for a 39-yard field goal, his only of the night. On their final possession of the half, and having just blocked a Goodwin punt at the Raiders 15-yard line, Dunn swept left before cutting back inside for a three-yard touchdown run.

The second half wasn’t much better for the Raiders, but they did manage to put 13 points up on the board. On their longest play of the night, with 9:29 remaining in the third, Hood connected with Stanback on a 72-yard touchdown pass. Stanback broke several tackles before running down the right sideline and into the end zone. Richmond failed to convert the two-point conversion.

Later in the fourth quarter, with 1:32 on the clock, Hood completed his second touchdown pass of the night, this time hitting senior wide receiver Deshaun Wallace on an 18-yard strike. Goodwin, who was filling in for benched regular placekicker Victor Lucero, made the extra point.

Of their eight non-scoring offensive possessions during the game, the Raiders’ ended with five punts, two fumbles, and one turnover on downs.

The Cougars added two more scores of their own in the second half, one being a Lawrence 10-yard dash, the other a 47-yard laser from James to senior wide receiver Lex Goodwin.

Knowing that his team faced a tough opponent tonight, Till offered words of encouragement to his team following the game. Using this early-season hiccup as a learning experience, Till reminded his players that there are nine more games to be played to accomplish their goals.

“Next week is a new week, and we are going to evaluate our opponent and decide our game plan accordingly,” Till said.

The Raiders will look to redeem themselves as they travel to Pine Forest High School (Cumberland County) next Friday, September 1. Pine Forest lost its opening bout against Purnell Swett 48-15, and at the time of this publication, its second game against Concord High School hadn’t been posted. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. 

 

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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.