Friday night at Raider Stadium, the Raiders fell to No. 1-ranked Butler, 48-21 in a NCHSAA Class 4AA quarterfinal contest.
With the loss, the Raiders end the 2010 season 12-2. Both losses came to Butler - which moved on to a Western Bracket championship game next week against Vance, upset winners over top-seeded Mallard Creek.
For Richmond coach Paul Hoggard, the game came down to mistakes at key times.
“Butler is a great team and you just can’t give them a short field,” Hoggard said.
The two teams traded three-and-outs to start the game.
Richmond drew first blood immediately on its next possession. It was Walter Ellerbe going off left tackle and outracing a stunned Butler defense to the end zone. Chandler Conner’s PAT gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead with 9:13 left in the first quarter.
But the chances of a 7-0 score holding up in this one were pretty slim, and the Bulldogs had an answer on its ensuing possession, striking almost as quickly as the Raiders did. On the fifth play of the drive from the Butler 45, it was Bulldog quarterback Riley Ferguson hooking up with receiver Uriah LeMay on a TD pass. With the Butler PAT, the score was tied at 7.
After another pair of punts were traded, the Raiders found themselves pinned at their 11 - the worst possible location for a fumble.
But that’s exactly what happened, as the Raiders put the ball on the ground. The Bulldogs recovered and wasted little time cashing in the Richmond miscue, Ferguson connecting with Kris Frost on a 10-yard TD pass to put the Bulldogs on top, 14-7.
It was an early gut-check for the Raiders. How would they respond to the adversity?
Raider fans didn’t have to wait long for an answer. Richmond hunkered down and put together a textbook six-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in an 8-yard Walter Ellerbe TD run with 8:19 left until halftime.
But all night long, the Bulldogs seemed to be the team better able to come up with the big play at key times -— albeit sometimes through luck. On Butler’s ensuing possession, the Raiders had the Bulldogs pinned in a fourth-and-8 situation. Ferguson was leveled by a Raider defender and had to leave the game for a play, , but not before completing a pass for - you guessed it - eight yards.
The drive culminated with a TD pass from Ferguson to Uriah LeMay with 3:04 left until halftime.
Richmond was unable to move the ball at all on its next possession, taking just over a minute off the clock. A punt from the Raider 37 traveled just 15 yards, giving the Bulldogs 50 yards to cover in just over two minutes.
Butler was able to do just that, finding the end zone with 18.4 seconds left until the half. After a failed PAT, the teams headed for the locker rooms with the Bulldogs up 27-14.
And with the ball to start the second half after deferring in the first — Butler certainly had the momentum.
The Bulldogs continued that momentum with their first possession of the second half, going 72 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 29-yard pass from Ferguson to Channing Stribbling. The PAT put the Bulldogs up 34-14.
Richmond was not able to move the ball at all in the second half, picking up just one first down - that on a running into the kicker penalty on a punt.
For the rest of the game, Butler pounded the Richmond defense with 6-foot, 230-pound fullback Jahwan Edwards, who routinely carried for five and six yards at a pop.
Edwards scored from a yard out with 7:07 left in the game to put the Bulldogs up 41-14.
The Bulldogs added their final score on a punt return for a TD late in the fourth quarter.
A final bright spot for the Raiders — and perhaps a fitting capper to Walter Ellerbe’s Raider career - came on the Bulldogs’ final kickoff, when Ellerbe took the ball at the goal line and found an opening for a 100-yard TD.
As usual, the Raiders will say goodbye to a large group of 30-plus seniors.
“This was a good group,” Hoggard said.
“We’ll miss them.”
Contact sports editor David Vantress at 997-3111, ext 14 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.