ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior’s Armando Garcia broke free behind the Hoke County defense with a chance to score in the game’s opening moments.
Instead of finding the back of the net, Garcia’s shot went straight into the waiting hands of goalkeeper Austin Crowder. Minutes later, Garcia had another opportunity to break into the scoring column, but again Crowder was up to the task.
It was that kind of night for the Raiders as the Bucks got two goals from John Sellers, including one on a penalty kick, to pull away for a 4-2 Southeastern Conference victory Wednesday night at Raider Stadium.
The loss drops Richmond out of a tie with Hoke for third place in the conference. The Raiders are now 8-3-2 on the year and 2-3-1 in the SEC, while the Bucks improve to 10-5-1 and 3-2-1.
“We missed our opportunities and they took advantage of theirs,” Richmond coach Bennie Howard said. “When the score got to 4-2, you could see the air come out of our balloon.”
After trailing 2-1 at halftime, Richmond tied the game nine minutes into the second half. Johnny Juarez intercepted Crowder’s attempted throw down the field and lofted a shot from nearly 35 yards out. The ball just squeezed under the crossbar and over Crowder’s outstretched arms for a goal.
Hoke responded with the tie-breaking tally six minutes later as Simon Love was brought down in the penalty box by Richmond’s Brantley Paul, which resulted in a penalty kick for the Bucks. Sellers sent a shot past a sprawling Chris McDonald for the game-winner.
John Walrath added an insurance goal minutes later for the final margin.
“I would have lost my house tonight on this one,” Howard said. “It’s going to take a miracle for us to get out of fourth now. Stranger things have happened, but we really needed to get a W out of this one tonight.”
Richmond will play host to Purnell Swett 7 p.m. Monday, while Hoke will battle Lumberton at the same time in Raeford. The Pirates are 9-7 overall and 4-2 in the conference after a 4-1 loss to Pinecrest.
Pinecrest wraps up victory
SOUTHERN PINES — The Pinecrest girls tennis team completed its 8-1 victory over Richmond Wednesday afternoon after the match was delayed because of rain.
Richmond’s lone victory came at No. 3 singles when Abbi Carpenter defeated Karen Smith 9-8 (10-8).
“We played pro sets to try and beat the rain yesterday,” Richmond coach Paula York said. “When we went out today, we were already losing 3-0, but we played well.”
In the other singles matches: Caroline Decker downed Caroline Kirkland 8-0, Chrissy Nurnberg cruised past Katy Shelley 8-0 and Piper Davis knocked off Haleigh Denham 8-4. Paige Sumner stopped Summer Jacobs 8-1, while Brittany Jenkins took out Peyton Hunt 8-0.
In doubles, Pinecrest only lost five games to sweep the three points.
Richmond (2-10, 2-7) will close out its regular season at 4 p.m. today when it travels to face Scotland.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.