Stunning Victory: Patriots Hold Off Richmond, 31-28
Patriot Pride trumped Raider magic Friday night.
The Pinecrest football team fought off a last minute Richmond senior challenge to grab an improbably 31-28 victory.
It was the second time the Patriots defeated Richmond. The first came back in 1992.
According to winning coach Chris Metzger, it will be the last time the Patriots sneak up on an opponent.
Two years ago the Patriots trailed the Raiders 59-0 in Rockingham at halftime on the way to an 0-11 season. This time, the Patriots rocked the sports world in these parts with the stunning road victory.
As the clock ran out many of the estimated 1,000 Patriot fans streamed on to the field, tears flowing for many of them.
"You allowed them to feel like heroes," Metzger told his players. "People cried tonight for joy. What a joy it is watching you grow."
Jamel Verbal and Damien Decatur each scored two touchdowns as the Patriot ground game rolled up 280 yards in a turnover free performance. The Patriot defense recovered three fumbles and intercepted a pass to spoil Homecoming Night and a brilliant passing performance by Raider quarterback Tedarrius Wiley.
The Patriots take a 6-1 overall and 2-1 record in the Mid-Southeastern Conference into their own homecoming game against Hoke County (4-3, 1-2) next Friday. The loss dropped the Raiders coached by Paul Hoggard to 4-2-1.
"There weren't any surprises for me, I knew they were good," the Richmond coach said after talking to his players. "Coach Metzger has come in and done a tremendous job. The turnaround is unbelievable."
Twice in a second half that was played in a light rain, the Patriots saw 10 point leads reduced to three.
With 2:40 left in the game, the Raiders' Devin Davis returned a punt 80 yards for an apparent touchdown and the lead. But a holding call on the return set them back to their own 24 for one last chance to pull out the win.
This was not exactly a position Pinecrest has been in often, but according to linebacker Neil Major, the defensive unit was calmer than you might think.
"It was intense," he said, "but we all knew our assignments. I think in the back of our minds we knew that this was the kind of thing Richmond thrives on, that Raider magic. But we had the intestinal fortitude to stick with it."
With the defense giving up the short pass, Wiley completed seven of 10 to move his team to the Patriot 20 with 30 seconds left in the game. Labarrian Jones gained eight yards on fourth and 2. Then Wiley was tackled in bounds on a run that took him inside the 10.
Time ran out before the Raiders could stop the clock and set up a game-tying field goal attempt.
"We went to our nickel package," Metzger said. "It looked like they were going to have another case of Raider magic. In the end, they just ran out of time."
Almost from the start, this one had a surprise in the Patriots' ability to churn out so much yardage on the ground against the Raider defense.
"To be honest, we hope, and we wish, and we dream about things," Patriot assistant coach and offensive coordinator Cam Bennett said. "We're just glad our running game stepped up. Tonight we made the veer look like we've wanted it to look for a long time. The thing is, we have three great receivers, and they're going to have to cover those guys."
On the opening series of the game, Patriot quarterback Josh Scales completed his only pass of the night for 21-yards to James Baldwin. After turning the ball over on downs, Richmond scored on its first play, a flare pass from Wiley that Gabe Love took 65 yards for a touchdown.
Major said it didn't worry the defense at all.
"It was a blown coverage and we couldn't do anything about it," he said. "What I really liked was we all put the play behind us and got right back out there."
The Patriot offense responded with a 67-yard scoring drive. Scales ate up 38 yards on an option run. Verbal took it the final 10 and the conversion by Dillon Maples made it 7-7.
Richmond retook the lead early in the second period on a 3-yard pass from Wiley to Lovell Joy that capped a 78-yard drive. Then on the second play after the Raider kickoff, Verbal burst free shortly after getting past the line of scrimmage and sprinted 74 yards for the tying score.
"The defensive line didn't get any penetration and the people that need to get the linebackers got there," Patriot center Tucker Lee said.
Moments later, a fumble recovery by Major on a ball snapped over Wiley's head led to a 22-yard field goal by Maples and a 17-14 lead.
The home team had the ball two more times before halftime, but Major and Jeremy Harris combined for a sack and a 14-yard loss that ended one opportunity. The fourth interception of the season by Tony Allbrooks ended the other.
Midway through the third period, linebacker Jeff Hopkins won the race to another snap over the head of Wiley and recovered the ball, 25 yards down the field on the Raider 46.
"There was pressure so that helped out a lot," Hopkins said. "I think we made them nervous. I knew it was wet so I just dove on it."
Six plays later, Decatur scored from the five and Maples' kick made it 24-14. The teams exchanged touchdowns with the Patriot score by Decatur coming after a fumble recovery by Harris. A 22-yard connection between Wiley and Quayshawn Dumas made it 31-28, setting up the furious finish, and the emotional response by the Pinecrest supporters.
"I was really crying as I went up to hug my mom and my dad," Patriot defensive back Jyhe Utley said. "It's a shock to beat Richmond. We had fans running on the field and it was like a dream come true."
The only other victory over Richmond was also on a Raider homecoming night.
Offensive tackle Sam Cole, who is one of five that played in the rout at Richmond two years ago, was asked how two years could make such a difference.
"Oh my goodness," he said, all the work Coach Metzger and them put us through, and all the running coach (Ron) Delusme put us through. The coaching staff gets full credit for this. We believed in everything they taught us and took it to the house."
Verbal carried the ball 12 times for 125 yards and Decatur gained 70 on 13 carries. Scales picked up 69 on 17 attempts and also played the entire game at cornerback. Wylie completed 24 of 36 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns. Joy caught 13 of them for 161 yards and Love grabbed eight for 132.
Pinecrest 7 10 7 7 31
Richmond 7 7 7 7 28
Scoring ( R) Love 18-pass from Wiley (Threadgill kick); (P) Verbal 10-run (Maples kick); ( R) Joy 3-pass from Wiley (Threadgill kick); (P) Verbal 74-run (Maples kick); (P) Maples 22-field goal); (P) Decatur 8-run (Maples kick); ( R) Jones 5-run (Threadgill kick); (P) Deacatur 5-run (Maples kick); (R) Dumas 22-pass from Wiley (Threadgill kick).
Team stats First downs (P) 13 (R ) 25; Rushing (P) 47-280 (R) 33-112; Passing (P) 1-6, 21 yds. ( R ) 24-36, 317 yds., 3 tds., int.; Penalties - (P) 4-30 (R ) 9-75; Fumbles (P) 1-0 (R ) 4-3; Punts (P) 3-34.5 (R ) 1-41
Individual stats Rushing (P) Verbal 12-125, Decatur 13-70, Scales 17-69, McLean 5-16 (R ) Jones 18-108, Dumas 2-19, Little 3-14, Jackson 4-10, Love 1-(-2), Wiley 5- (-37); Passing (P) Scales 1-6, 21 yds. (R ) Wiley 24-36, 317 yds., 3 tds., int.; Receiving (P) Baldwin 1-21 (R ) Joy 13-161, Love 8-132, Dumas 2-23, Little 1-1.
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