Saturday, 09 November 2019 01:33

No. 1 Raiders score 5 unanswered TDs to claim second-straight SAC title

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Junior quarterback Caleb Hood (5) had three passing scores and a game-high 137 rushing yards in Friday's SAC championship-clinching win. Junior quarterback Caleb Hood (5) had three passing scores and a game-high 137 rushing yards in Friday's SAC championship-clinching win. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

LAURINBURG — When junior wide receiver Jakolbe Baldwin hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Caleb Hood at the 1:25 mark of the second quarter of Friday’s rivalry game, he would give the No. 1 Raiders all the points they would need to secure back-to-back Sandhills Athletic Conference championships.


But the Richmond Senior High School offense and defense weren’t finished, as they combined to tally five unanswered scores to defeat rival No. 4 Scotland 48-13 on the road. The Raiders outscored Scotland 28-0 in the second half to remain perfect.

The victory served as Richmond’s first win at Pate Stadium since 2009, and it capped the program’s first undefeated regular season since 2006.

In the two teams’ 53rd all-time meeting, the Raiders’ 35-point margin of victory was the second largest by Richmond in the storied rivalry’s history (Richmond won 39-0 in 1975). 

“I’m so proud of these kids,” third-year head coach Bryan Till smiled after the game. “The coaches have done a great job preparing them, and you’re not just going to come out here and find a way to win. These guys were really prepared and believed in each other.

“And they continued to do what it takes to win, and that’s why you’re seeing this product on the field,” he continued. “I’m proud of the whole community. It feels so good to have everyone working together and see the fruits of those labors.”

The Raiders maintained their status as the SAC champion behind a balanced offensive attack that saw three passing scores and three rushing touchdowns. The defense would also add a score when senior linebacker Gavin Russell scooped up a fumble and returned it 22 yards to the house.

In last season’s rivalry bout at Raider Stadium, Richmond pulled away late in the second half to earn a 23-8 victory and snap a seven-game losing streak to the Scots. 

Friday’s contest saw Scotland turn the ball over on downs to open the game, and Richmond’s first drive came up empty after a failed field goal attempt. The Scots’ first offensive miscue came on the first play of their second drive when quarterback Bruce Wall fumbled and saw Raider cornerback D’Marcus Harrington fall on it at Scotland’s 16-yard line.

Hood, who finished the night 7-of-15 passing for 158 yards and three touchdowns, made easy work for the team’s first score two plays later. He connected with junior wideout Dalton Stroman over the middle, and Stroman made a nice second effort to secure the ball for the score.

Junior kicker Mack West added the point after attempt and made it 7-0 with 6:25 left in the first.

Richard Bailey’s Scots responded with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that used a fake punt attempt to keep the drive going. 

Although the Raider defense made several ket plays, including a Russell sack, a Harrington pass break up and a Javon Little tackle for loss, Wall would scoot in from 12 yards out with just over two minutes left in the opening stanza. Andrew Oswald’s PAT attempt was short.

Following a Drew Davis punt for the Raiders, Richmond’s defense used a CJ Tillman quarterback pressure and a JD Lampley stop on third-and-one to force a punt. Taking over at their own 25-yard line, the Raiders would go 75 yards on four plays and use a facemask penalty to score.

Hood opened the drive with a dump off to Baldwin underneath who turned the eight-yard completion into a 22-yard gain. Following the penalty and a short run by senior tailback Jaheim Covington, Hood laced a pass to the back of the end zone to find a rolling Baldwin make the catch. The PAT was no good, but Richmond had its second lead of the game.

Again, the Scots would move the ball down the field, answering with a 20-play, 80-yard scoring march that chewed 7:16 off the clock. Wall would notch his second rushing score of the night, and Scotland’s final points of the game, on a one-yard push up the middle. Oswald rang true to tie the game.

Baldwin, a Division I prospect with a handful of offers, would give the Raiders the lead they wouldn’t let go of when he ran a go route down the right sideline and made the basket catch over Le’Shaun Tyson-Smith just inside the front pylon. West got back between the uprights and the Raiders took a 20-13 lead into the break.

Jakolbe Baldwin (4) hauls in his second touchdown in Friday’s win over Scotland.

The turning point, according to Till, was the late first-half score and the quick touchdown series that opened the third quarter. On the third play out of the half, Hood kept the run-pass option for himself and used his speed to burst up the middle of the field and race 41 yards to the end zone to make it a two-possession game, 27-13.

“The big score right before halftime was huge and our offense scoring at the very start of the second half gave us some separation,” Till explained. “(Scotland) wanted to grind the clock and it makes it a lot tougher when you’re down two scores.”

With Scotland looking to answer for a third time, senior safety Dereck Barringer had other plans. On second-and-13, Wall made an errant pass attempt into the secondary, and Barringer was there to receive the ball for his second pick of the season. 

Richmond took advantage again, this time seeing Covington use his legs to rush it in from 19 yards for the score. West’s PAT opened Richmond’s lead to 34-13 with 6:43 left in the third. He extended his scoring streak to eight consecutive games.

The Raiders would score one more offensive touchdown in the third stanza, resulting from a 58-yard burst from junior tailback Jaron Coleman. He rounded the right edge on a sweep and charged to the end zone untouched.

Russell put the exclamation point on the win with his second turnover in as many games when Mandrell Johnson fumbled the ball after making a catch from a Tyler Barfield pass. Gathering the ball at the 22-yard line, Russell dodged traffic down the left sideline before crossing into the end zone and having the turnover pads slammed on his shoulders.

Gavin Russell (42) celebrates with teammates after his fumble recovery for a touchdown.

“(Tonight’s win) really isn’t a statement other than how hard we want to play,” Till said. “We got some great breaks tonight by playing hard. It was tough sledding early on and (Scotland) made it tough.

“If you watched this game, you know how hard our kids played for 48 minutes and how much they believe in one another.”

Richmond anticipated a strong running game from Scotland and that’s what the Raiders got, seeing the Scots use four backs to collect 205 rushing yards. Senior Savion Leak had a team-high 89 yards on 19 carries, while Kyshaun Galberth contributed 72 yards on 14 attempts.

But the Raiders’ front seven, comprised of Tillman, Lampley, Russell, linebackers Joerail White and Dre Bethea, among others, effectively kept Scotland out of the end zone. Place kicker Trevor Moss also kept Scotland pinned deep in its own territory, as the junior tallied five touchbacks on his eight kickoffs.

“Our kids knew what they had to do and kept playing,” Till said of the defense. “We wore that down and got better on fitting those tackles. That’s why you keep playing the game.”

Hood proved to be Richmond’s leading rusher, picking up 137 yards on the ground on 11 attempts. Coleman had 88 yards on five rushes and Covington’s 37 yards on 10 touches added to the mix. All three would record a rushing score.

Targeted five times, Baldwin caught four of those passes for a game-high 108 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Stroman’s two receptions went for 31 combined yards, while junior Tremel Jones caught one pass for 19 yards.

With the 2019 regular season in the books, No. 1 Richmond (11-0, 7-0 SAC) will wait to see its playoff seeding. Scotland (9-2, 5-2 SAC) fell to third in the SAC standings after Pinecrest lost to Hoke County on Friday.

Preliminary brackets have the Raiders receiving a first-round bye and possibly the No. 1 overall seed in 4AA play. But they’ll have to wait for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association to shake things out when it releases its official brackets over the weekend.

Last year, with a 10-1 record entering the playoffs, Richmond received a No. 3 seed in the 4AA West bracket and a first round bye.

“We have a bye and we’ll figure out who we play in the second round,” Till closed. “Then we’ll meet and figure out what we want to plan and practice and go from there.”

POSTGAME INTERVIEWS: 

Head coach Bryan Till

Linebacker Joerail White, cornerback D'Marcus Harrington and safety Dereck Barringer

Quarterback Caleb Hood, wide receiver Jakolbe Baldwin and offensive lineman Jaleel Davis

Last modified on Saturday, 09 November 2019 09:04
Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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