ROCKINGHAM — A potential game-winning drive in the final two minutes of Friday’s regular-season finale didn’t come to fruition for the Richmond Raider football team.
Letting a fourth-quarter lead slip, the Raiders saw their season-long winning streak of three games come to an end against rival Scotland High School in a 22-21 defeat.
In textbook fashion, the Raiders and rival Fighting Scots battled until the final whistle, giving fans from both stands a good show.
The loss to the Fighting Scots (6-4, 4-2 SAC) resulted in the Raiders finishing in a tie for second place with Scotland in the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings.
Despite outperforming Scotland in total offense, 355 yards to 190 yards, Richmond was plagued late by penalties and missed opportunities that thwarted the comeback effort.
“I’m proud of our guys, and there are some things they know they could have done better,” head coach Bryan Till said. “But I told them after the game I’d take them a million times out of a million times to be their coach and not (Scotland’s).
“We love our guys. We’re disappointed in the result but it doesn’t make us less proud of the boys. Now we have to get ready to move on and help our guys learn and grow as young men from this.”
Both teams traded punts through the opening four series, and it was Scotland that got on the board first. With 1:40 left in the first quarter, quarterback Carter Revelle connected with wide receiver Izeem Graham for a 48-yard passing touchdown.
That score carried over into the second quarter and the Richmond defense stopped the Fighting Scots in the red zone. On fourth down from the 11-yard line, pressure from the blitz caused Revelle (10-of-16, 161 yards, 3 touchdowns) to throw an errant pass in the end zone.
Just four plays later, the Raiders responded with a trip to the end zone themselves. Senior running back Taye Spencer (19 carries, 125 yards, 1 TD) broke loose for a 65-yard gain to the Scotland 24-yard line.
On a reverse, senior wide receiver Jamarion Bryan took a handoff from senior quarterback Emoni McBride on third down. Rounding the right edge and cutting back to the middle of the field, Bryant scored on the 23-yard run.
Sophomore Billy West split the uprights for the first of three times to tie the game 7-7 with 9:13 left in the second quarter.
Two drives later, Scotland took a 14-7 lead into halftime. Revelle threw a completion to Demarion Davis for a 52-yard touchdown.
The Raiders responded by marching down the field in the final 1:35, but the drive stalled when McBride threw an interception in the end zone. The pass was intended for junior tiger back Jacoby Martin, who wrestled for possession.
To start the third quarter, the Raiders went on a scoring drive that nearly ate up half the clock. Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Raiders drove the ball 75 yards on 13 plays.
Four total first-downs by Spencer (3 rushing, 1 receiving), and another rushing first down by junior tailback Jaliel Green, put Richmond at the Scotland 8-yard line.
On third down, Spencer found a gap in the line and trotted into the end zone untouched. West’s PAT was good to knot the game 14-14 with 6:36 remaining in the third.
A quick series by Scotland resulted in a punt, which led to a 4-play, 77-yard scoring drive by the Raiders. A long first-down run by Green moved the ball into Scotland territory.
Running for an 8-yard gain on the next play, McBride followed that with a 27-yard rushing touchdown up the middle of the field. Just over three minutes from their last score, the Raiders went ahead 21-14 with 3:23 on the clock.
The back-and-forth affair would see the teams trade possessions over the next four drives. The Fighting Scots started their game-winning drive at the Richmond 33-yard line with just over seven minutes to go.
A facemask penalty and two defensive pass interference calls, including one on fourth down from inside the 25-yard line, kept Scotland’s drive alive. Revelle threw his final score of the game to Cadyn Graves from 10 yards with 1:49 left.
Going for the win, the Fighting Scots completed the two-point conversion when Zay Jones took a direct snap, pitched it to Graves, who threw it to Revelle in the end zone.
“We had them exactly where we wanted them on fourth down near the goal line,” Till recalled. “They put a reverse on during third down and put the ball on the ground. I literally thought we had won the ball game right there.
“We felt good with the call on the (game-winning) touchdown. Jamison Jones is our best cover guy but their kid made a nice play. The two-point play frustrates me quite a bit because we ran it earlier in the game and they came back and ran it on us.
“Our guys ran it in practice this week against ourselves and we played it perfectly,” he added. “We should have sniffed it out and been up by one.”
Bryant returned the ensuing kickoff to the Scotland 42-yard line and a pair of Spencer runs for 22 total yards breathed life into the offense. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and sack made it 4th-and-21.
Heaving the ball to the end zone, McBride (6-of-19, 42 yards) threw an interception on a pass just out of the reach of sophomore Raymond Knotts.
Scotland sealed the win by going into victory formation with 41 ticks left in regulation.
“We had our chances late with good field position,” Till said. “We were in field goal range before we got backed up on the penalty. That’s the frustrating thing, we had chances to make those plays and we didn’t.
“Even after Scotland scored to take the lead, we thought nothing other than we were going to end it with a touchdown or a field goal.”
A busy night on campus, Richmond honored its 22 senior players before the game. The cheerleading team and Raider marching band recognized its senior members, too, and a 50-year reunion was also held for the 1972 football and cheerleading teams.
The Raiders (5-5, 4-2 SAC) are currently ranked as the No. 21 team in the NCHSAA’s RPI rankings at the time of publication.
Playoff brackets will be released on Saturday and the Richmond Observer will publish an article when they are finalized.
The Richmond Observer will publish photo galleries of senior night, the 1972 reunion and photos of the game over the weekend.