SOUTHERN PINES — For 36 minutes Pinecrest played lights out against Richmond Senior.
Then the lights literally went out at the end of the third quarter at John Williams Stadium.
The blackout, caused after a car hit a power pole near Aberdeen lasted nearly 20 minutes, but didn’t slow the Patriots down as they pulled off just their third victory in the 36-game series 21-7.
“The kids played hard on defense, offense and special teams,” Pinecrest coach Chris Metzger said. “The kids did a great job of executing. It was a great effort.”
Pinecrest took advantage of three Richmond fumbles and converted them into 14 points.
The first was on a bad snap on a punt on the Raiders’ first possession of the game. The ball sailed over Brandon Greene’s head, he was able to retrieve the ball, but was tackled at the Richmond 17. Christian Ledbetter scored four plays later on a 3-yard run.
But Richmond’s last turnover was the backbreaker.
Trailing 14-7, the Raiders held the Patriots to a 3-and-out in the opening moments of the fourth quarter after the delay and took possession at their own 40. On the first snap, Montek Johnson and Diquon Cox were unable to connect on a handoff, allowing Malik Newsome to record his third fumble recovery of the night.
After a 3-yard run by Ledbetter, Troy Roper sprinted 35 yards up the gut of the Richmond defense for the game-clinching touchdown.
“We didn’t make plays in critical times,” Richmond coach Paul Hoggard said. “We had chances we didn’t take advantage of them. Hats off to Pinecrest, they had a great scheme against us.”
The Raiders were hampered offensively after starting quarterback Brent Flowers suffered an apparent ankle injury in the first quarter and missed the remainder of the game.
Flowers rushed for 20 yards on five carries before leaving. Montek Johnson, who led Richmond to a 55-6 win over Lumberton the week before, replaced Flowers. Johnson was limited to minus 13 yards on the ground and was 1 for 5 in the air for 25 yards.
Even with Flowers on the sideline, Richmond was able to march inside the Pinecrest red zone three times, but was unable to score all three times.
At the end of the first half, Cox broke away for a 76-yard run to give the Raiders a first-and-goal from the 4. After three runs, a pass interference call on Pinecrest in the end zone and a false start penalty, Johnson attempted to connect with Raheem Bowden on a fade in the left corner on fourth down, but Pinecrest’s Keegan Good knocked the ball over.
“Keegan played great,” Metzger said. “He came through for us.”
On its first possession of the second half, Richmond once again marched deep into Pinecrest territory. Facing first-and-10 at the Patriot 15, the Raiders rushed for six yards on two attempts. Johnson attempted to find Bowden in the end zone on third and fourth down. The first pass was tipped away against by Good and the second sailed over Bowden’s head.
“It was tough sledding throwing the football tonight,” Hoggard said. “Montek came in and did the best he could.”
The Raiders’ last hurrah came after Roper’s touchdown run, but Cox was stopped for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-3 at the Pinecrest 7.
Richmond will now head to Scotland next week and try to snap a two-game losing streak to its arch-rival.
“The kids will have to ignore the negatively that will come this week,” Hoggard said. “We need to pull together because next week will be tough.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.