Editor’s note — This concludes the Richmond County Daily Journal’s look back at the top moments from the Richmond Senior athletic department this season.
ROCKINGHAM — It is the call that is still talked about on internet message boards today even though it occurred more than eight months ago.
And depending on which side of the field you sat on that night determines your thoughts on the outcome. Although there are doubts from both parties if the ball made it across the goal line.
The play in question is the 2-point conversion attempt by Purnell Swett with 1:34 remaining in the game and the Rams trailing 42-41.
After a timeout to discuss their options, the Purnell Swett coaching staff elected to put the ball into the hands of their all-purpose player, Juwan Jones. The senior had torched the Richmond Senior defense for 243 total yards of offense and four touchdowns on the night.
Jones took the handoff on a jet sweep around the right end and searched for an opening along the Raider defense. He believed he found the needed crease and turned toward the goal line with the sideline rapidly approaching.
At the same time, Richmond’s Steve Houston was fighting off a block, looking to stop Jones from reaching the end zone and giving Purnell Swett the lead.
The two collided just inside the 1-yard line and the pair began a battle of wills which seemed to last for minutes, but in reality was over in an instant. Houston pushed Jones out of bounds and all eyes turned to the linesman to see if Jones was able to push the football over the goal line.
The linesman ran towards the field with his arms crossing back and forth signaling a failed attempt, allowing Richmond to escape with a 42-41 victory and avoid losing back-to-back conference contests since 2008.
“I knew I had to stop him,” Houston said. “He had the ball right there and if I got off the block a millisecond later, he would have scored.”
Jones, on the other hand, believed he was able to find the end zone before Houston shoved him to the sideline.
“I was in there,” Jones said. “The loss hurts.”
Purnell Swett coach Mark Heil believed Jones crossed the goal line and the officials missed the call.
“We have video evidence that he scored,” Heil said. “We don’t get that call and it takes something away from these kids. I have been back here 11 years and we never get any calls. Our kids fought so hard.”
Heil also defended his decision to try and go for the lead instead of attempting to kick a tying extra-point.
“I’ll do it every time,” Heil said. “I didn’t want to put all that pressure on our kicker, plus we had to win the game.”
Richmond coach Paul Hoggard backed Heil’s choice to go for the victory.
“They had all the momentum,” Hoggard said. “We hadn’t really stopped them. They gave the ball to their best player, I’m not sure if he got in, but they say it was pretty close. I hate it for them because they are a good team.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com