ROCKINGHAM — The Raiders gave the Homecoming crowd a reason to cheer with their win Friday evening.
With Hall of Fame coach Daryl Barnes, his 1997 state championship squad, and former standout — current New Orleans Saints linebacker — Dannell Ellerbe watching in the stands, they did not disappoint.
The Richmond football team gained 260 yards on the ground, 175 yards through the air, forced two turnovers and recorded two sacks in a 49-27 victory over a Lumberton team that didn’t back down.
“They have had a great week of preparation,” head coach Bryan Till said. “They had fun dressing up in school (for Spirit week) but they were man enough to take that ownership. That’s a big reason we played as well as we did.”
Richmond (6-3, 4-1 SAC) looked as if it were on its way to a shutout win after the first four possessions. Its defense got back-to-back stops and the offense scored two rushing touchdowns — courtesy of sophomore Jaheim Covington and senior Dante Miller, respectively — in order to take a 14-0 lead.
Lumberton (2-7, 1-4 SAC) didn’t fold, however, as junior quarterback Braylan Grice came back on the field and led a drive that started with a 56-yard bomb to junior wideout Kwasheek Breeden and ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to senior Tyson Alford.
An interception from Pirate senior cornerback Malik Cooper put the ball back into the hands of Grice, who found Breeden streaking down the sideline. Breeden would haul in the pass, shake off two defenders and then race to the end zone — which tied the game with only 23 seconds left in the first quarter.
“We knew what was coming, we’ve got to be there. That’s the frustrating part as a coach, because our kids know that,” Till said. “We’ve just got to execute better.”
The Raiders would focus in and hold Lumberton scoreless in the second quarter, forcing two turnovers (one fumble, one interception) and getting a stop on fourth down in three defensive possesions.
On offense, they scored on two of their four drives and went into halftime with a 28-14 lead. Freshman quarterback Caleb Hood was responsible for both scores, as he snuck in from one yard out — after faking the handoff to Miller — and then launched one deep to a wide-open Kaleb Douglas for a 45-yard score.
“We came back and rebounded. That was a huge step in our growth (process),” Till said of the surge late in the first half.
Douglas would put six more points on the board with his 69-yard kick return late in the third quarter, making it the second consecutive week that he has scored a touchdown on special teams.
The senior has been all over the place for Richmond this season. He’s caught two touchdown passes as a wide receiver, recorded an interception as one of the team’s starting defensive backs, returned more than 20 kickoffs and punts, and has taken a few snaps under center.
“I just try to play all of my roles to the best of my ability,” Douglas said. “Every week is different. Some weeks I need to make defensive plays, some weeks I need to make offensive plays, and some weeks I need to make special-teams plays. Tonight I was able to make (plays) in all three.”
The other two Raider scores in the second half came when senior wideout Da’Shaun Wallace recovered Hood’s fumble in the end zone with 10:15 to go in the third quarter. Hood, who finished with 61 yards rushing, shook his way past Lumberton’s defense for a 19-yard touchdown nearly four minutes into the final period.
The Pirates had Grice find senior De’onnta McCallum for a 9-yard strike in the third, and then finished the night with a 12-yard touchdown run from junior Quamadre Cannady in the fourth quarter.
“Right now, it only gets bigger from here,” Till said.
Richmond welcomes Seventy-First next Friday in what could be a game for the No. 2 spot in the conference, which means an automatic playoff bid. It travels to conference rival Scotland, who has been rolling through SAC play so far, in the regular-season finale on Nov. 3.
“We’ve got everything in front of us. We’ve got to be prepared to play that big game next week,” Till added.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.