Saturday, 16 October 2021 15:29

Balanced effort, 4 picks lead No. 3 Raiders to 6th straight win

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Senior Gabe Altman squeezes into the end zone for the Raiders during the second quarter. Senior Gabe Altman squeezes into the end zone for the Raiders during the second quarter. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — A balanced diet of running and passing the football, four positive turnovers and a fast start in the opening two quarters, helped the Richmond Raiders sting Lee County High School during Saturday’s conference meeting.

Ending their stretch of three Sandhills Athletic Conference games in 11 days, the Raiders used two rushing scores, two passing touchdowns and a pick-six to defeat the Yellow Jackets 34-7.

Meeting for the first time as conference opponents in 29 years, all the points from both teams were scored in the first half.

The win extended Richmond’s current streak to six in row this season, was the team’s 21st consecutive conference win, and was the Raiders’ 16th straight win over Lee County (5-3, 2-2 SAC) dating back to 1987.

Richmond’s offense set the tone early by scoring on its opening possession, marching 68 yards on seven plays. A double reverse on the first play from scrimmage accounted for a 31-yard gain by senior Javares Stanback.

Six plays later, senior quarterback Kellan Hood threw a 26-yard passing touchdown to senior wide receiver Cason Douglas on 4th-and-10. Catching the ball at the 10-yard line, Douglas weaved his way down the right sideline for the score.

Freshman kicker Billy West split the uprights for the first of his four made PATs and Richmond led 7-0 with 9:15 to play in the first quarter.

Senior Cason Douglas (2) catches his touchdown pass over Noah Johns (25) on Richmond’s opening drive. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

The Raider defense forced a turnover on downs and a punt, respectively, on Lee County’s first two series. With 30.7 seconds remaining in the opening stanza, junior linebacker Frazion Steele, who made his first career start, ended the Yellow Jackets’ third drive with a pick-six.

Jumping a pass attempt by quarterback Will Patterson on the near sideline, Steele caught the ball at the 38-yard line and raced to the house untouched. Another West PAT put Richmond ahead 14-0.

Junior Frazion Steele (24) nears the end zone on his first career pick-six. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Steele would strike again just two plays into the next Lee County drive, intercepting his second pass of the game on the opposite side of the field to give the Raiders possession at the Yellow Jackets’ 26-yard line. 

Starting the second quarter deep in Lee County’s defensive zone, an 11-yard completion to Douglas and a 14-yard run by senior running back Nasir Crumpton put Richmond at the 1-yard line.

Offensive coordinator Brad Denson called in the special goal-line package, putting senior defensive end J.D. Lampley at tailback. Taking the handoff from Hood, Lampley shed several would-be tacklers while moving to his left to find the end zone for the second time this season.

With 11:18 remaining in the first half, West connected again on the PAT to put the Raiders up 21-0.

Senior J.D. Lampley (55) pushes away a defender as he crosses into the end zone for a rushing touchdown. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Lee County’s lone score of the game came on the ensuing kickoff. Sophomore kick returner B.J. Brown caught the ball at the 13-yard line and went 87 yards to the end zone. Kennedy Hernandez added the PAT and Richmond’s lead was cut to two possessions, 21-7, with 11:03 on the clock.

Sustaining a 14-play, 80-yard, the Richmond offense answered the Yellow Jackets’ score on the next drive. Hood connected with senior wide receiver Trey Thomas on an 18-yard pickup to move the ball across midfield.

A catch of 10 yards by Douglas and an 11-yard run by junior running back Taye Spencer highlighted the drive and moved Richmond into the red zone. On second and goal from the 12-yard line, Richmond found success again by using its goal-line donkey formation.

Senior linebacker Gabe Altman lined up at tiger back and split off to the left flat, catching the 12-yard passing score from Hood. Taking the ball at the 11-yard line, Altman barreled through two defenders to slide inside the front pylon for his first varsity offensive score.

With the clock winding inside of five minutes until the half, the PAT attempt was no good, but Richmond extended its lead to 27-7.

A near-pick by senior cornerback Jaleak Gates on Lee County’s next drive forced a three-and-out, and Richmond faced an 82-yard field with 2:35 to play.

Nine plays later, Hood would cap the game’s scoring with a 7-yard rushing score. Hood used his legs to pick up gains of 22 and 23 yards on the drive, before scrambling out of the pocket and diving between two defenders to cross into the end zone with 26 seconds left before the intermission.

Senior Kellan Hood (7) rushes for his team-leading 11th rushing touchdown of the season. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Both teams went scoreless in the second half, and Richmond head coach Bryan Till said the heat played a factor, seeing both teams have several players cramp up in the final two quarters.

Two of Lee County’s drives ended in punts, another was a turnover on downs, and Patterson was picked off twice more. 

Senior safety Kelay Lindsey made a leaping interception at the 1:54 mark of the third quarter, his second of the season, and returned it to the Richmond 25-yard-line, thwarting a possible scoring drive by the Yellow Jackets.

Hood threw an interception two plays later, Richmond’s only turnover of the game. 

Gates recorded his second interception of the season, and second in as many games, with 4:10 remaining in the fourth quarter. He stepped in front of the intended receiver and gave the Raiders the ball at the Lee County 46-yard line.

It was Richmond’s fourth interception of the game, and ninth turnover in two games this week, which allowed junior quarterback Emoni McBride and the Raider offense to run out the clock for the win.

Senior safety Kelay Lindsey (11) intercepts a Will Patterson pass in the third quarter. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Richmond collected 363 yards of total offense (218 rushing, 145 passing), compared to Lee County’s 125 total yards of offense. 

Entering the game, Patterson was averaging 196 passing yards per game and was the SAC’s leading passer, but Richmond held him to 4-of-20 passing for 5 yards.

Hood connected with six different receivers for 138 yards on 17-of-24 passing with two touchdowns. He added a team-high 84 yards on 12 carries and contributed one rushing score.

Douglas was the No. 1 target, hauling in a game-high seven catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. Thomas had two catches for 27 yards, and both Altman and Stanback had one grab for 12 yards each.

Spencer was the second leading running back for Richmond, rushing his way for 67 yards on 14 carries. Brown was the game’s leading rusher, picking up 115 yards on 16 carries.

Richmond (8-1, 5-0 SAC) will enter a much-needed bye week before it tries to win its fourth consecutive outright SAC championship title against rival Scotland High School in the regular-season finale on Friday, Oct 29. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Pate Stadium.

VIDEO INTERVIEWS — Click the links below to hear from players and coaches following Saturday's win.

QB Kellan Hood and DT Jacoby Martin

LB Frazion Steele and S Kelay Lindsey

DE J.D. Lampley and LB Gabe Altman

Head coach Bryan Till

The Richmond Observer will publish a photo gallery of Saturday’s game later this week. For updates on all Richmond County sports, follow us on Twitter @ROSports_.

Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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Twitter: ROSports_