There is probably not much anyone from Richmond County will agree on with their neighbors to the east.
After Scotland football coach Richard Bailey’s comments following his team’s performance Friday night, a number of Richmond residents will readily nod their head in agreement.
“In the NCAA, you always see the best teams have a game that really tests them and makes them see how tough they are,” Bailey said to the Laurinburg Exchange. “Hoke was that game for us.”
For members of the Raider Nation, replace Hoke with Lumberton in Bailey’s statement and you get an idea of how things were for Richmond coach Paul Hoggard and his squad at Alton G. Brooks Stadium.
For nearly three quarters, the underdog Pirates were not only exchanging punches with the third-ranked team in the state, they were winning the bout. If an interception returned for a touchdown hadn’t been called back because of a penalty, Lumberton may have been standing proud at the end of the game with its biggest victory in the series and perhaps school history.
However, just like Scotland did against Hoke, Richmond found a way to battle back in the final 13 minutes of the contest to pull out an important conference win.
Junior running back Diquon Cox became the focal point of the offense and rushed for a career-high 236 yards. Cox also found the end zone twice, including the go-ahead touchdown in the waning moments of the third quarter.
While Cox and Raider offense kept racking up yards, their counterparts on defense settled down against Lumberton’s Wing-T offense. The Pirates had 148 yards of offense in the first half before being limited to 63 in the final 24 minutes.
During the week the Richmond defensive coaching staff preached to the players about maintaining their assignments and not get caught up with all the bells, whistles, smoke and mirrors that Lumberton throws at the opposition.
The Pirates kept pounding and chipping away at the Raider defense looking for an opening and it found two in the first half. Walker Fann was wide open on a 65-yard scoring pass from Jez Deese. After recovering a fumbled punt near midfield, Ahmad Smith broke free for a 41-yard run which led to a field goal and a 10-6 halftime lead.
Then the Raiders slammed the door on the Pirates.
Offensively, Lumberton would have finished the second half in red numbers if it wasn’t for its final possession of the game, when Daniel Robinson rambled 55 yards to move the ball deep into Richmond territory before finishing out the drive with an 8-yard scamper for the final points.
Close contests like this don’t make fans very happy when they expect to win by 28 points every night, but like Bailey said it proves how tough a team is when facing adversity.
And when it comes to the postseason, there will be more character-building games like this than blowouts.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.