ROCKINGHAM — For just the third time this season, Richmond Senior walked into the locker room at halftime trailing its opponent.
Unlike the last time when the Raiders suffered their only loss — against Scotland — the team responded by scoring on their first three possessions of the second half en route to a 34-14 win over Fuquay-Varina in the second round of the 4AA playoffs Friday night at Raider Stadium.
“There wasn’t a speech,” Richmond coach Paul Hoggard said about the second-half turnaround. “The players knew the situation. It was a tough week. I thought they had a good week of practice, but there were other things that made it tough on the team. I thought they did a good job of overcoming it and played well in the second half.”
Richmond (11-1) rallied behind the play of quarterback Brent Flowers. The junior was responsible for two of the Raiders’ three second-half touchdowns. Flowers connected with Trent Bostick on a 12-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-two to put the Raiders up for good with 7:49 left in the third quarter. Flowers closed out the scoring with an 11-yard scamper in the opening moments of the fourth quarter.
Flowers completed 8 of 12 passes for 113 yards and added another 76 yards on the ground. Dakwa Nichols rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
Hoggard thought his offense played well against the Tigers, but was hampered because of errors.
“We stopped ourselves because of penalties or turnovers,” Hoggard said. “We got a little sharper in the second half. It seems like we had to beat a bunch of people there in the second half. I am really proud of how hard we played in the second half.
“I thought we did a good job on third and fourth down. Being able to convert those was very big for us tonight.”
While the offense was hitting its stride in the final 24 minutes, Richmond’s defense was doing the same. After surrendering 151 yards to Fuquay-Varina in the first half, the Raiders allowed just 97 the rest of the way.
The Tigers (7-5) recorded just four plays of more than 10 yards in their 52 offensive snaps. One of them was a 67-yard scoring run by quarterback Tyler Williams on the second play of the game. Williams finished with 115 yards on 14 carries and was 3-for-10 passing for 24 yards and an interception.
“On their two touchdown drives, we had people who were awful in carrying out their assignments,” Richmond defensive coordinator James Johnson said. “On their big run, we completely blew it. It should have been at best a 1- or 2-yard gain. Those are plays we have to make.”
The Raiders will play host to Jack Britt (11-2) next week in the Mideast pod final. The Buccaneers advanced after slipping past Hoke County 17-10.
“It would be great if they showed back up next week,” Hoggard said of the Richmond fans. “The following week we will probably be somewhere in the Raleigh area. That will probably be our last home game of the season.”
In the other game involving a Southeastern Conference school, Scotland, the defending 4A champion, cruised to a 56-27 victory over Lee County. The Fighting Scots will face E.E. Smith next week in Pate Stadium. The Golden Bulls routed Southeast Guilford 54-36.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.