ROCKINGHAM — There were two significant plays in the first half and both went against Richmond Senior.
The first came on the kickoff after Butler grabbed the lead on a touchdown pass from Anthony Ratliff to Jordan Huntley. Richmond was unable to cleanly field a pooch kick which was recovered by Butler.
The final play resulted in the Bulldogs taking a 15-point halftime lead as Benjamin LeMay found the end zone with 1.3 seconds left.
“Those were big,” Butler coach Brian Hales said. “Getting the score with 1 second or whatever on the clock was huge. That’s the second time this year we have done it. I think the other time was with 2 seconds.”
Those results allowed Butler to hang on and hand Richmond its first loss of the season 49-32 Friday night at Raider Stadium. The Bulldogs improve to 3-2 on the year, while the Raiders drop to 4-1.
“That botched kickoff put us two scores behind and then we had to press a little bit,” Richmond coach Paul Hoggard said.
The Raiders got on the board first on a 2-yard run from Miles Grant to cap a 12-play, 82-yard drive. Grant finished with a team-leading 145 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Ratliff got Butler even on the first play of the second quarter, connecting with LeMay for a 22-yard touchdown.
After LeMay’s score, Grant pushed Richmond back in front on the first play from scrimmage by breaking away for a 63-yard run for a touchdown.
Then Ratliff and the Bulldogs took over. Despite being pushed back to its own 7 following a penalty on the kickoff, Butler drove the 93 yards on four plays as Ratliff sprinted into the end zone from 6 yards out to tie the game at 14.
The Raiders were unable to respond, going three-and-out on their next possession, giving Ratliff another chance. He was up to the task once again. Ratliff accounted for all but five yards on a four-play, 57-yard drive to give the Bulldogs the lead for good on his pass to Huntley.
LeMay scored the second of his four touchdowns on the night after the pooch kick to push Butler out to a 28-14 advantage.
Richmond did answer the call this time as Grant rushed 10 yards for his third touchdown of the first half, but then Butler found a little magic of its own before halftime marching 77 yards in just under two minutes as LeMay scored from 2 yards out to make it 35-20 at the break.
At halftime, Ratliff had passed for 228 of his 327 yards and rushed for 126 of his 152 yards.
The Raiders scored on their first drive of the second half to pull to cut the deficit to 35-26, but it was the closest it would get the rest of the way.
“We knew we had to near perfect tonight with two guys out on defense,” Hoggard said. “It hurts but I feel like we are going to be a pretty good team. We just need to heal up and get ready for Anson is really all you can do.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.