Not time to toss in the towel
One game doesn’t make a season.
Thankfully, the majority of the Richmond Raider Nation understands last week’s contest with Butler wasn’t the end of the world.
It was one of 11 regular season games and against the defending 4AA champion to boot.
Granted this wasn’t the same Butler team from a year ago that was averaging 46 points. Yes, the Bulldogs did lose a good number of players off their high-powered offense, including quarterback Riley Ferguson, but coach Brian Hales still has a couple of weapons at his disposal.
Anthony Ratliff proved he deserves the looks he is getting from the likes of Clemson, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Ratliff threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for another 178 yards and a score.
Ratliff wasn’t the only Bulldog making a splash against the Raiders, Benjamin LeMay also found some running room as well. LeMay ran for 118 yards and three touchdowns on the night.
Richmond tried to match Butler’s two stars with its Big Three of Diquon Cox, Brent Flowers and Miles Grant.
During the week, Richmond coach Paul Hoggard talked about how the Bulldogs in the previous three meetings have been able to bend and not break against the Raider offense. Hoggard warned how it would take long, sustained drives against Butler in order to put up points.
His words rang true as the Bulldogs all but eliminated Cox and Flowers from the equation.
Of Richmond’s five touchdowns, only one took less than eight plays to find the end zone. In their first four games, the Raiders had scored a touchdown 15 times on drives taking three snaps or fewer. And that doesn’t include a kickoff return by Cox against Vance.
While the offense continues to put up points, Friday’s loss did one crucial thing — put a beaming spotlight on the team’s Achilles Heel.
It’s been a mixed bag as the team enters Week 6. Despite final scores which are misleading, Richmond’s defense has shown flashes against Rocky River, Myrtle Beach and Jack Britt.
It is the games with Vance and Butler which have defensive coordinator Mark Arthur scratching his head and looking for answers.
Part of the solution could be the return of linebackers Gus Chambers and John Taylor as both sat out Friday’s game because of injuries.
Also, the next five weeks should give Arthur and his defense a chance to right the ship with Anson, Hoke County, Purnell Swett, and Lumberton coming up as well as the open date.
There is still plenty of football left to be played before anyone should start throwing in the towel on the Raiders and the season.
— 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.
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