The Raiders are currently 8-1 overall and a perfect 3-0 in the conference. Richmond’s only loss came in a 38-31 defeat to No. 1 Matthews Butler back on Sept. 11.
The Raiders’ offense has been the key to the team’s success this season, averaging a conference-leading 37.2 points per game.
The offense has been based around the running game, averaging 313 yards a game and led by Labarrian Jones. The senior has a team-leading 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns. For only the third time this season, the Raider defense held an opponent under double digits in the 24-7 victory over Lumberton last week.
The triumph over the Pirates allowed Richmond to move into sole possession of first place in the conference. Richmond’s other two conference victories were a 49-20 win over Hoke and a 47-36 victory over Purnell Swett. The Raiders have two road games left on the schedule at Pinecrest and Scotland. Richmond can win the SEC championship with a victory over the second-place Patriots Friday.
If the Raiders lose to Pinecrest, Richmond would then need the Patriots to lose to Hoke in the finale and defeat Scotland, to win the conference outright. Richmond could still win a share of the conference, if it were to drop its final two games, but would need a lot of help.
Pinecrest comes into the big conference showdown versus Richmond sporting an 8-1 overall mark and 2-1 in the league. The Patriots’ conference wins came in a 31-13 win over Scotland and last week’s 22-20 victory over Purnell Swett. Pinecrest’s lone loss was a 45-14 defeat to Lumberton in the conference opener.
In the two-point win against Swett, Pinecrest kept their conference title hopes alive and held off a late Rams’ rally when the defense stuffed Swett’s running back Jock Clark at the goalline as time expired before Swett could run another play. The Patriots remaining game after Richmond is at Hoke County.
Pinecrest can move into a first-place tie with a win over Richmond and have the head-to-head tiebreaker if both teams finished with equal records. The Patriots could win the conference outright with a win over Richmond and Hoke coupled by a Raiders’ loss to Scotland.
Pinecrest and Richmond would be awarded co-conference champions, if they finish up the SEC schedule with the same conference record. But according to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s handbook, if two or more teams have equal conference percentages at the end of the season, the team that has the edge in head-to-head competition will get the higher place in the standings.
After its first conference loss to Richmond, Lumberton dropped to 6-3 overall, 2-1 in the SEC and into a second-place tie with Pinecrest. The Pirates’ offense, which was averaging over 30 points a game was held to their lowest output of the season. The defense held Richmond to its second lowest scoring game of the season and has allowed a league-low 12 points a game.
Two of the Pirates’ three losses were non-conference defeats to Pine Forest (28-26) and Whiteville (10-7). Lumberton conference victories came against Pinecrest and a 42-13 win over Hoke County.
Lumberton still has an outside shot of winning the conference title outright. The Pirates would need to win their remaining games at home versus Scotland and at Swett, while Richmond would have dropped its last two games and Pinecrest drop one of its final two games.
Even if the Pirates lose one of their remaining two games, Lumberton can still finish in a three-way tie and win a share of the conference with Richmond and Pinecrest. In order for that to happen, the Raiders must lose out, while the Patriots would still have to lose one of their two games left on the schedule.
Purnell Swett and Hoke have a very small window of opportunity to win a share of the conference title. Each team has two losses and with Richmond at three wins, a loss by either team would eliminate them from title contention.
Swett started the season 7-0, but have lost its last two conference games to Richmond and Pinecrest to fall to 7-2 on the year, 1-2 and third the SEC. The Rams’ lone conference victory was a 38-37 nailbiter over last place Scotland. Swett still is mathematically alive of winning at least a share of the conference.
Swett would need to win out and hope Richmond loses its last two games, Pinecrest drop one of its last two and Lumberton to lose one of its final two. That would allow Swett to finish in a four-way tie with Richmond, Pinecrest and Lumberton.
Despite a 2-7 record, fourth-place Hoke remains alive in the conference at 1-2. The Bucks snapped a five-game losing streak after defeating Scotland 42-21. Hoke’s remaining matchups are at Swett and home versus Pinecrest.
The Bucks realistically could earn a share of the conference title if Richmond drops its final two games, the Patriots lose one of their two games, while Lumberton is defeated in one of its two remaining games. Hoke would then finish with a four-way tie in the conference with Richmond, Pinecrest and Lumberton.
Scotland has mired though another rough season at 2-7 overall, 0-3 in the conference. Scotland is averaging a league-low 17.6 points a game and its defense is second to Hoke in points allowed at 30.9 a game.
The Scots have been eliminated from the conference title race. Scotland will attempt to play spoiler in its last two games at Lumberton and at home versus rival Richmond.
n Contact sports reporter Corey Davis at 997-3111, ext. 44; e-mail email@example.com