MATTHEWS — Kicker Alex Alvarado didn’t get his chance to be the hero.
With 59 seconds to go in the game, the Richmond Senior football team lined up for what would have been the go-head field goal on fourth down. However, miscommunication caused the Raiders to fumble the snap and surrender its chance at taking the lead.
“We were just trying to change our cadence a little bit, because they kept leaping (over the line) at that point,” coach Mike Castellano said. “We thought we had the guy in the neutral zone and the timing was off, but that’s not an excuse. That play didn’t lose us the football game. The plays that lost us the game were the ones prior to that.”
Two runs from Butler’s Nijere Peoples and a quarterback kneel would end a thrilling 42-41 victory for the Bulldogs.
“They played a great game and we played with a lot of effort,” Castellano said. “But you can’t make that many mistakes and win a football game against this kind of team.”
There were 32 penalties called in Friday night’s contest, as Richmond was flagged 18 times.
“I think some of our inexperience showed at times, but that’s also not an excuse.” Castellano added.
The Raiders went into the half with 35-19 lead over Butler (3-1).
In the first half, Leon Zeigler threw for 187 yards and four touchdowns, Damontre Bennett ran five times for 96 yards and a score and Steven Jones found the end zone twice on two catches.
Richmond wasn’t able to find that kind of success after the break.
Butler came out the break hitting on all cylinders, as David Cheek marched the offense down the field on its opening possession and finished it off with a 4-yard touchdown strike to Dirk Cureton — and a two-point conversion.
The Bulldogs would then get back-to-back stops from their defense and tie the game up on another touchdown pass and two-point conversion.
Dante Miller responded with a huge kickoff return, giving the Raiders great field position, and Bennett did the rest — breaking a couple of tackles on his way to his second rushing TD of the night.
But a blocked extra-point attempt prevented Richmond from putting that much-needed 42nd point on the board.
“I thought we made a lot of mistakes, especially on defense and special teams,” Castellano said. “And that’s my responsibility.”
The Bulldogs would drive down the field and go up a point after Cheek found Kusegi Cureton — his fourth passing touchdown of the night — and they converted the extra point.
“We have a great group of guys who will play hard until the end and by no way am I discouraged,” Castellano said. “When you play a team that’s probably the No. 2 team in the state — and you have every opportunity to win — you have to learn from it, get better and understand the potential you have.”
Cheek (Butler) threw for a game-high 265 yards, Bennett led the game with 146 rushing yards and Kusegi Cureton (Butler) caught nine passes for 125 receving yards and three scores.
Richmond (3-1) now prepares for its matchup against South View, which will take place at Richmond Senior next Friday, Sept. 16, at 7:30 p.m.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.