Thursday, 04 March 2021 21:30

JV Raiders' 4th-quarter comeback falls short against Pinecrest

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Sophomore Jadden Jenks hauls in a pass over Luke Tew, which he ran in for a 50-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Jadden Jenks hauls in a pass over Luke Tew, which he ran in for a 50-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — Head junior varsity football coach Patrick Hope admitted it would be tough for the Richmond Raiders to beat the same team twice in consecutive weeks.

Although the JV Raiders would make Thursday’s game against Pinecrest interesting in the fourth quarter with some splash plays, Richmond fell to the Patriots 28-14.

It was the second time in eight days the Raiders and Patriots met on the gridiron to start the 2021 season, and both teams now sit with a 1-1 record. Unlike in the season opener, Richmond wasn’t able to take advantage of the Patriots’ mistakes.

“We didn’t execute the little things that maybe our guys are too young to not take for granted,” Hope said. “They have to understand that when we get an interception, a blocked punt or a strip fumble, we have to make the opponent pay for it.

“That was one of the biggest differences,” he added. “We turned the ball over and they made us pay for it by scoring touchdowns and we weren’t able to capitalize on ours.”

The Raiders struggled to find their footing in the first half, fumbling on their first play from scrimmage. That allowed the Patriots to take over at the Richmond 20-yard line and take a 6-0 lead on a Nahjiir Seagraves two-yard run up the middle.

Seagraves’ two-point conversion run was stopped, and Pinecrest would take that lead into halftime.

Sophomore Xavier Wall picked off Pinecrest quarterback Alexander Brady on the Patriots’ second drive, but a three-and-out was the result for the Raiders.

Richmond’s defense kept up the pressure on the next drive, seeing freshmen Isaiah Lockhart and Tristan Wall combine on a sack. Freshman defensive end Johnny Lunceford made a key stop on Seagraves on third down, forcing Pinecrest to punt.

On the snap, sophomore Messiah Shaw got into the backfield and blocked the kick, which was scooped up by Lareese Swinnie at the Pinecrest 40-yard line. Swinnie raced down the left sideline to the Pinecrest 7-yard line.

Three straight running plays from sophomore tailback Taye Spencer put the Raiders inside the 5-yard line, but the Patriots made the fourth-down stop to keep Richmond off the board.

Lockhart stripped a fumble out of Seagraves’ hands on the ensuing drive with 1:05 left in the second quarter. But another three-and-out by the offense ended the first half.

Pinecrest would score on its first three possessions in the third quarter to take a 28-0 lead. Alexander threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Ilyas Kalila and the two-point conversion was good on the Patriots’ second play of the third frame.

Following a Raider fumble, Seagraves capped a five-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run and Alexander added the two points with 6:07 left in the third.

A miscue on the kickoff by the Raiders’ recovery team let the ball bounce untouched down to the 4-yard line. Pinecrest picked it up and got possession, and Alexander plowed ahead for a touchdown run on the next play.

That would be the Patriots’ final score of the game, and the Raiders couldn’t score on a 10-play drive on their next possession. 

Sophomore quarterback Emmanuel Gilliam, who was 5-of-11 with 106 yards and two touchdowns, connected with sophomore wideout Cincere Wall on a 25-yard strike to put the Raiders past midfield.

A 15-yard penalty and a 25-yard run from Spencer, who had 41 yards on 15 carries, put the Raiders inside the 10-yard line. But the drive stalled on a turnover on downs. Freshman Jaziah Liles recorded a sack on Alexander to close the third and force a punt.

The opening 2:41 of the fourth quarter was the Raiders’ best stretch on offense and special teams, resulting in two touchdowns and two onside kick recoveries.

On fourth-down, Gilliam hit Cincere Wall for a 25-yard touchdown through the air, who caught the ball just inside the front left pylon. Spencer plunged in for the two-point conversion and Richmond trailed 28-8 with 7:46 to play.

Freshman Linden Garcia lined up for the kickoff and sent an onside dribbler to his right, which was crashed on by Tristan Wall at the 50-yard line. On Richmond’s next play from scrimmage, Gilliam hooked up with sophomore wideout Jadden Jenks on a 50-yard catch and run down the right sideline.

The two-point try was no good, but Garcia and freshman Javian Drake gave the Raiders some hope when they teamed up to snag another onside kick. Drake fell on top of the ball at the Pinecrest 35-yard line after it deflected off a Patriot player.

But an interception by Marlon Harris on Richmond’s first play stopped the comeback attempt. For the remaining 6:53, the Patriots used Seagraves and Jackson Watford out of the backfield to run down the clock.

Cincere Wall finished with a team-high three receptions for 55 yards and Jenks had two catches for 51 yards.

“We needed something to get back into the game,” Hope said of the back-to-back recoveries. “Linden hasn’t kicked very much, but he was able to put two kicks spot on. That’s something we don’t work a lot on in practice, but to convert twice and have the opportunity to start a comeback was big.

“It was a physical game, and there were times Pinecrest was more physical than us,” he closed. “It starts out small and then fatigue sets in. We played into their hands being down and that’s what we get against those guys when we get behind.”

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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