HOPE MILLS — Ahead of this week’s game, senior running back Taye Spencer set a personal goal of gaining 300 yards of offense against South View High School.
He all but reached that achievement during a career performance, collecting 297 all-purpose yards in a 28-19 win for the Raiders.
Thanks to the offensive outing Richmond had been searching for, coupled with a defensive performance that created three turnovers and a couple of key special teams plays, the Raiders ended a three-game skid to start the season.
Spencer had a career-high 202 rushing yards on 26 carries (7.7 yards per carry) and added a career-high three total touchdowns. He crossed into the end zone twice on the ground and also caught a pass for a score.
In the passing game, Spencer led all receivers with 95 yards on four catches.
But it was the Richmond defense that got the game rolling in the right direction. Using their first two defensive plays to set the tone, the Raiders forced an early turnover, a familiar occurrence this season.
Sophomore linebacker Joe Parsons chased down quarterback Tariq Clarida on the first play of the game for no gain.
On the next snap, Clarida dropped the ball and senior defensive end Ethan Clayton scooped it up to give the Raiders a short field.
Starting at the Tigers’ 26-yard line, and using an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by South View, Richmond took just four plays to cross into the end zone.
Senior quarterback Emoni McBride kept the ball for an 11-yard scamper up the middle, his second rushing score of the season.
Sophomore Billy West tacked on the extra point to give Richmond a 7-0 lead with 10:07 left in the first quarter.
The Richmond secondary ended a South View drive on the next series when senior linebacker Frazion Steele broke up a pass on fourth down inside the Richmond 35-yard line.
Both teams missed a field goal on their next respective possession, and Richmond carried a one-possession lead early into the second quarter.
The Tigers (0-3) tied the game with a 52-yard catch and run from Clarida (11-of-23, 201 yards, 2 TDs) to Brandon Sanders with 4:30 left in the opening half.
Richmond responded with an 8-play, 61-yard drive to take a seven-point lead into the break. Senior two-way player Brandon Askins collected 27 rushing yards on consecutive plays to move the ball deep into Tigers’ territory.
McBride capped the drive with a 19-yard passing score to Spencer. Catching a pass in the right flat, Spencer maneuvered around a couple of defenders to sneak inside the front pylon.
West added the PAT to give Richmond a 14-7 advantage with 57 ticks left in the first half.
The Tigers got into the red zone and attempted a fake field goal with one second left on the clock, but junior defensive back Jamison Jones read the play and made the stop.
Jaydon Richardson ran to his right, but Jones cut off the angle and pushed the runner out of bounds at the 3-yard line.
Out of the break, South View cut into its deficit with another touchdown pass on its first drive of the third quarter. Clarida hit Sanders for a 19-yard score.
But junior defensive end Jacoby Martin led a host of Raiders on the extra point attempt, getting a hand on the ball that blocked the kick to preserve a 14-13 lead.
A 13-play drive that ate over five minutes off the clock resulted in another Richmond touchdown on the ensuing possession. Going 65 yards, McBride connected with sophomore receiver Raymond Knotts for 9 yards and Spencer hauled in a 25-yard catch.
Two plays later, Spencer scored the first of his two second-half rushing scores, a 14-yard run up the middle. West rang true and Richmond extended its lead to 21-13 with 2:50 left in the third.
Richmond’s defense executed a series of big plays on the next drive that carried over into the fourth quarter. Steele broke up a pass, which was followed by a pass breakup by fellow senior linebacker Zyion Baldwin in the end zone.
Sophomore linebacker Zach Gardner and senior nose tackle Urijah McDonald teamed up to sack Clarida on third down, which resulted in an interception by Steele on the next play to stall the drive.
Christian Rutledge edged the Tigers closer with a 5-yard rushing score with 4:59 left in the game. Sophomore linebacker K’Mauri Morgan thwarted the two-point try by forcing an errant throw.
But two plays later, Spencer put the exclamation point on his big night with a 71-yard burst into the end zone. Taking a handoff from McBride, Spencer weaved through the line before working out to the right sideline and going the distance.
In the closing four minutes, Morgan and senior safety Messiah Shaw cemented the win with two more crucial plays. Morgan sacked Clarida for a 9-yard loss and Shaw made a leaping interception, his second of the season, with 2:04 left.
That allowed the Raiders’ offense to chew the clock and leave Hope Mills with a victory.
Richmond, which doubled its season point total, had 453 yards of total offense (329 rushing, 124 passing). McBride went 9-of-15 passing with 124 yards and added 38 yards on 7 touches.
The Raiders (1-3) will look to add another victory to their record when the team begins 3A/4A Sandhills Athletic Conference play at Southern Lee High School (0-3) next Friday.
Last season, the Raiders handed the Cavaliers a 58-0 loss. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Sanford.
VIDEO INTERVIEWS: Hear from head coach Bryan Till, Taye Spencer, Frazion Steele, Jamison Jones, K’Mauri Morgan and Messiah Shaw.
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_.