The Bucks stopped here
Richmond 'D' steps up in SEC opener
by By Shawn Stinson
RAEFORD — Despite bending and sometimes breaking during the last four games, the Richmond Senior defense had a do-or-die moment with just over three minutes left in the game.
Trailing by 28-23, Hoke County was facing a fourth-and-3 at the Richmond 19. After converting a fourth down play earlier in the drive, the Bucks elected to put the ball in the hands of quarterback Geoffrey Thompson.
The senior scrambled to his left and tried to run for the first down. Thompson was met at the line of scrimmage by Richmond's Tyree Jamison and Ray Ellerbe. The pair combined to take down Thompson for no gain, turning the ball over to the Raiders on downs.
“We knew he was going to roll out,” Richmond linebacker John Taylor said of the play.
The defensive stop allowed Richmond to escape with a 35-23 victory after Diquon Cox tacked on a game-clinching 10-yard touchdown run.
Jamison made another big play earlier in the game when he scooped up a Jacob Rushing fumble and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“They made a play, it was the play of the game,” Richmond coach Paul Hoggard said of his defense. “We knew once they crossed the 50 it was going to be four-down territory. The thing is that play has been giving us problems all year because we have been losing contain on it.”
After being knotted at 14 at halftime, the Raiders (6-1, 1-0) scored 14 answered points in the third quarter on rushing touchdowns from Cox of 42 and 2 yards.
The Bucks responded with a 1-yard dive by Thompson in the opening moments of the final quarter to pull within one touchdown.
On the ensuing possesson, Richmond was forced to punt from its 21. The snap sailed over Brandon Greene's head. Greene grabbed the ball and ran out of the end zone for a safety as Hoke trimmed the deficit to 28-23 with 9:05 remaining in the game.
“We get a 3-and-out and snap the ball over the punter's head,” Hoggard said. “We put the defense in a bad position., but they were able to come up with a big play. We still have a long way to go.”
The Bucks took over at their own 38 after the safety and slowly marched down the field in 10 plays, setting up Thompson's fateful fourth-down run.
“Hoke's kids played their butts off,” Hoggard said. “They don't have a lot of kids and they were forced to play both ways.”
Cox finished the game with 117 yards and three touchdowns. Jesse Williams added 126 yards for the Raiders.
Richmond will return to action 7:30 p.m. Friday when it welcomes Purnell Swett to Raider Stadium.
— 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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