ROCKINGHAM — It was back to the basics for Richmond Senior.
The Raiders ran the ball, mixed in a little pass and played tough defense to advance to the second round of the 4AA state playoffs with a 40-7 win over Cary Friday night at Raider Stadium.
With the victory, Richmond will play host to Fuquay-Varina next week in a Mideast pod contest. The Bengals moved on by downing Green Hope 43-33.
“I thought we played pretty well tonight,” Richmond coach Paul Hoggard said. “Even though we played well, I didn’t think we played with a lot of emotion — like we were playing for our lives which we need to do because that is what the playoffs are about. I guess playing in front of 10,000 or whatever it was last week and playing in front of a few thousand tonight was a letdown.
“We have to get over that. We get to come back to Raider Stadium next week and hopefully the fans will show back up.”
Dakwa Nichols led the Raider rushing attack with 133 yards on eight carries, including a 54-yard touchdown on Richmond’s first play from scrimmage. Nichols took the pitch and sprinted down the right sideline, before cutting back into the middle of field for the score.
On the ensuing possession, Cary responded on Marquise Sherrod-Ponds’ 59-yard touchdown. After Phillip Thomas tacked on the extra point, the Imps (5-6) took a 7-6 lead.
“We had it bottled up and it should have been a 2-yard loss,” Richmond defensive coordinator James Johnson said. “Everyone got caught up in the scrum and he pops it out of there. I thought after that long run we really settled in.”
The Raiders (10-1) surrendered 156 yards of total offense to the Imps in the first half and just 68 in the final 24 minutes.
“We just missed some things tonight,” Johnson said. “I thought we defended the pass well. I thought we played in their backfield a lot.”
Richmond took the lead for good with 4:13 remaining in the first quarter. After misfiring on his previous two passing attempts, Brent Flowers connected with Kole Stanley on a 59-yard touchdown. Flowers was 6-of-9 on the night for 92 yards and two touchdowns. The junior added 90 yards on the ground, including a 28-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to close out the game’s scoring.
“I thought Brent threw it pretty good,” Hoggard said. “We didn’t turn it over until late which is something we haven’t done in a while.”
Richmond compiled 493 yards of offense in the win, its biggest total since finishing with 615 against South View in Week 4. The Raiders had 401 rushing yards, the first time they have gone over the 400-yard mark since defeating the Tigers.
“We’re an option football team, it’s what we do,” Hoggard said. “It’s the triple option but four things can happen out of it — the dive, the quarterback keeper, the pitch or the pass. It’s up to us coaches to figure out what the opposition is giving us.”
In other playoff action involving teams from the Southeastern Conference: Hoke County stopped conference foe Pinecrest 24-14 behind 118 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Detrez Newsome. Jack Britt eliminated Lumberton 28-14. The Buccaneers and the Bucks will square off next week in the other half of the 4AA Mideast pod. Scotland cruised past East Chapel Hill 40-5 in a 4A Mideast pod contest. The Fighting Scots will face Lee County, which knocked off Terry Sanford 57-35.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.