MINT HILL — Rocky River’s Jaire Alexander broke free down the middle of the field as Naiil Ramadan lofted the ball toward the end zone.
Alexander had reeled in two touchdown receptions from Ramadan earlier in the game and it appeared as if he was going to get his third.
Then seemingly out of nowhere, Richmond’s Daryus Skinner appeared to get a fingertip on the ball to knock it away from Alexander. Rather, as Skinner called it, “four fingertips.”
Skinner’s play allowed Richmond Senior to escape with a 21-14 victory over Rocky River in the season opener for both teams.
“I knew I had to get there and make a play,” the junior defensive back said. “I had to make up 10-15 yards. When he had posted, he broke off to the left side. I was over both of them and I looked off the one receiver and ran over there.”
That wasn’t Skinner’s only big play in the contest. At the end of the first half with the Ravens in Raider territory, Skinner intercepted Ramadan’s Hail Mary. P.J. Everett also picked off a Ramadan pass.
Richmond coach Paul Hoggard was pleased with the way his defense was able to make the key stop late in the game.
“The defense came up huge for us,” Hoggard said. “We had a chance to put it away, but we didn’t get it done.”
Rocky River started its final drive at its own 48 after a 35-yard punt return by Alexander. It marched to the Richmond 27 when Ramadan was flagged for intentional grounding to push the ball back to the 41. The penalty also resulted in a loss of down, on second-and-10, Ramadan fired an incomplete pass.
The next play was Skinner’s deflection. On fourth down, Ramadan was rushed out of the pocket and was hit by Cyrus Stanback as he attempted to throw the ball downfield.
Richmond running back Miles Grant accounted for all three touchdowns — two rushing and one receiving.
Trailing 7-0, Grant grabbed a pass in the middle of the field from Luke Hoggard and took it 67 yards for the score. On the first play of the second half, Grant took a pitch from Hoggard down the left sideline and broke free for a 79-yard touchdown. He closed out Richmond’s scoring with a 6-yard run at the end of the third quarter.
Grant finished the night with 137 rushing yards on six carries and had the one reception for 67 yards.
Richmond will return to action 8 p.m. Friday when it travels to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to take on Marlboro County.
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 or on Twitter @scgolfer.