ROCKINGHAM — All three units were ready to roll from the opening kickoff.
The Richmond defense forced a quick three-and-out on the first possession, its special teams group capitalized on the ensuing botched punt and then the offense found the end zone — on its second play from scrimmage — minutes later.
That kind of start is what head coach Bryan Till has been hoping to see since his team opened the season five weeks ago.
“It was great. Those guys came out ready to go in every phase,” he said.
The Raider football team opened conference play at home against Purnell Swett on Friday and finished with six rushing touchdowns — the most in a game this season — in a 56-34 victory.
“I’m proud of our 22-point victory, but as a defensive coordinator that 34 points hurts somewhere deep inside. We’ve got to do better than that on defense,” Till said. “We kind of got flat after we got up, but it’s a position that we hadn’t been in. It was a new experience, so we’ve just got to learn from it and get better.”
Senior defensive end Delon Wall got the Raiders going with his lone sack on the second play of the game. Fellow senior Jaquan Everett, who was lined up at linebacker, followed Wall’s sack with a tackle in the backfield after exploding through the Rams’ offensive line.
Purnell Swett went to punt on fourth down but things didn’t go as planned, as the ball looked to hit off one of its own players and bounced backwards into the endzone — where Richmond’s Shane Summey recovered it for the game’s first score.
After another Swett three-and-out, the Raiders’ offensive unit took the field. Freshman quarterback Caleb Hood ran for a yard on first down and then connected with junior wideout Jahyee Stanback for a 66-yard touchdown on second down.
And Richmond took a 14-0 lead with 6:45 left in the first quarter.
Senior quarterback Luke Oxendine got the Rams on the board with a 1-yard sneak on the ensuing possesion, and senior running back Deandre Pankey scored from six yards out late in the second quarter, but they had no answer on defense.
Richmond tacked on two touchdowns in between the visiting team’s scores — Jaheim Covington’s 5-yard push and Hood’s 11-yard dash — and then added another with 27 seconds left in the first half on a 2-yard run from Hood in order to go into hlaftime with a 35-13 lead.
Its final drive before the break featured a number of penalties called against a Purnell Swett defense that was flagged twice for unsportsmanlike conduct, which led to players from both teams pushing one another.
Till called a timeout to address the situation.
“We just told them to keep their emotions in check. Things don’t just happen tonight, the affects can carry over, so we’ve got to be on our P’s and Q’s to finish this game and play next week,” Till explained.
The second half of play was more even than the first, as both teams scored three touchdowns in the last 24 minutes.
Richmond (3-2, 1-0 SAC) got two more scores from Covington, one from 11 yards out and one from three yards out, and 6-yard push from senior tailback Dante Miller to finish off its scoring for the night.
Covington carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards and three touchdowns, while Miller touched the ball 14 times for 72 yards and a score. Hood completed 14 of his 20 passes for 223 yards and a score.
Purnell Swett (3-2, 0-1 SAC) saw senior running back Al’Drique Thompson go untouched for an 8-yard score and Oxendine throw two touchdown passes to senior wide receiver Cyran Dial and junior wide receiver Chandler Brayboy.
Oxendine also completed 14 passes Friday evening, throwing for 206 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Rams’ offense. Thompson had the most carries (10) but Pankey finished with more yards (67). Brayboy caught nine passes for 150 yards.
“We got the monkey off our backs,” Till said of the team’s first home victory. “So hopefully we can come out here and play a little more loosse going forward.”
The Raiders host Pinecrest — who fell to Seventy-First 28-14 on Friday — next week in their second conference game.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.
Richmond senior running back Jeremy Wall (23) receives a handoff from senior Kaleb Douglas in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s home game against Purnell Swett. Wall finished with 10 carries and 62 yards in the 56-34 victory.