Raiders Score 35 Unanswered Points, Beat Pinecrest 69-35
Pinecrest matched one of the most powerful offenses in high school football touchdown for touchdown for nearly three quarters at the John Williams Athletic Complex Friday night.
But before an estimated 6,000 fans, the Raiders showed their 2008 state championship mettle by exploding for 35 unanswered points to hand the home team a 69-35 loss. Walter Ellerbe scored a team-record six touchdowns as the fourth-ranked Raiders (9-1, 4-0) denied the Patriots (8-2, 2-2) a share of first place in the Southeastern Conference.
"The offense was doing a real nice job, and the defense was slowing them down," Patriot coach Chris Metzger said. "The kids were hanging in there. You can't give any team 35 points the way we did tonight. There were so many positives, but we've got to find a way not to do that."
Some of the loudest man-made sounds ever heard in Moore County followed three scoring runs by Raphael Alston and a pair of touchdown passes from Ben Williams to James Baldwin that helped give the Patriots a 35-34 lead three minutes into the second half.
Alston put the Patriot fans in ecstasy when he somehow burst from the pack to return the opening pooch kickoff by the Raiders 66 yards for a touchdown. Just as special teams breakdowns contributed to a 31-28 Patriots upset of the Raiders last year, they would bite Richmond two more times.
After Darion Hailey blocked a Raider punt, Alston went 19 yards for a touchdown on the next play. The conversion by Dillon Maples made it 14-7 Patriots. Moments later, the first of Ellerbe's touchdowns tied the game up, but a 49-yard burst by Bret Toomer set up a 49-yard field goal by Maples and a 17-14 Patriot lead with 55 seconds still remaining in the first quarter.
"We thought we were going to have trouble stopping them, and we had a lot of blunders," Raider coach Paul Hoggard said. "They have a lot of weapons, and they run a great system."
Two more short touchdown runs by Ellerbe, the second set up by a Patriot fumble, put the visitors in front 28-17 with 1:17 remaining in the first half.
The home team started from its own 23-yard line after the ensuing kickoff, and Williams completed five passes in a row, the final one a 42-yard toss to Baldwin for the touchdown. The conversion was wide, and the Patriots trailed 28-23 at halftime.
"He's a tremendous player," Hoggard said of Baldwin. "I wish him the best in college. I'm glad we don't have to face him anymore."
The last special teams failure by the Raiders helped the Patriots regain the lead just 13 seconds into the second half.
Baldwin's low, wobbling kickoff was fumbled and recovered by teammate Hunter Ocheltree at the Raider 13, and Alston found pay dirt of the first offensive play of the second half. The extra point attempt was wide again, but the Pats led 29-28.
Ellerbe was now doing most of the ball carrying after an injury to teammate Labarrian Jones. On the second play after the kickoff, he raced 60 yards down the left sideline for his fourth touchdown of the contest.
"I just felt the team needed someone to take Labarrian's place," Ellerbe said of his teammate, who scored his 20th touchdown of the season earlier. "I ran as hard as I could. I just wanted to beat those boys."
Just over a minute later, a 23-yard scamper by Alston set up a 37-yard touchdown connection between Williams and Baldwin. Another missed conversion had the Patriots hanging on to a 35-34 lead.
If this one looked a bit like one of Richmond's battles with fellow state powerhouse Charlotte Independence in the state playoffs, the air was about to be sucked out of the Patriot balloon. They were forced to punt on their next three possessions against a fired up Raider defense, before committing turnovers on their final two possessions.
Raider quarterback Tedarrius Wiley, who completed 14 of 16 passes for 235 yards, and Ellerbe, who finished with 244 yards on 29 carries, helped provide the knockout punch. A 3-yard run by John Stanback put the Raiders in front for good at 41-35 with just under five minutes left in the third period. A 47-yard touchdown pass from Wiley to Quayshawn Dumas and two more scores by Ellerbe turned the game into a rout.
The Patriots were unable to contain the sprints outside by Wiley followed by pitches to Ellerbe or Stanback.
"We made some adjustments at halftime that helped us a little bit, kept the chains moving and kept our defense off the field," Hoggard said.
Alston led the Patriot ground attack with 84 yards on 10 carries. Williams completed 11 of 16 passes for 135 yards, including five to Baldwin for 101 yards. The Raiders finished with 613 total yards to 277 for the Patriots.
In the quiet Patriot locker room afterward, Metzger shifted the attention to next Friday's final regular season game at Hoke County. He told his players they will need a win to earn a state playoff game at home. The Bucks are 2-7 and 1-4 but boast one of the state's most potent passing combinations in quarterback Vernon Brandon and wide receiver Eric Wolff.
"I'm proud of them because they kept fighting," the coach said of his players. "We've had two rough games in a row physically, so we've got to get the kids back together and get going."
Richmond 14 14 21 20 69
Pinecrest 17 6 12 0 35
Scoring -- (P) Alston 66 punt return (Maples kick); (R ) Jones 2-run (Conner kick); (P) Alston 19-run (Maples kick); (R ) Ellerbe 9-run (Conner kick); (P) Maples 49-field goal; (R ) Ellerbe 1-run (Conner kick); (R ) Ellerbe 3-run (Conner kick); (P) Baldwin 42-pass from Williams (kick failed); (P) Alston 13-run (kick failed); (R ) Ellerbe 60-run (kick failed); (P) Baldwin 30-pass from Williams; (R) Stanback 3-run (Conner kick); (R ) Dumas 47-pass from Wiley (Ellerbe run); (R ) Ellerbe 24-run (Threadgill kick); (R ) Ellerbe 3-run (Threadgill kick); (R ) Bostick 54-int. return (kick failed).
Team stats -- First downs (R) 26 (P) 10; Rushing (R) 52-378 (P) 19-142; Passing (R) 14-16, 235 yds., td. (P) 11-16 135 yds., 2 tds., int.; Fumbles (R) 3-1 (P) 4-2; Penalties (R) 5-35 (P) 10-73; Punts (R) 1-blk'd (P) 4-44.5.
Individual stat leaders -- Rushing (R) Ellerbe 29-244, Stanback 10-56, Wiley 7-44, Jones 4-33 (P) Alston 10-84, Toomer 5-58; Passing (R) Wiley 14-16, 235 yds., td. (P) Williams 11-16, 135 yds., 2 td., int.; Receiving (R) Dumas 5-158, Rich 3-27, Stanback 3-25 (P) Baldwin 5-107, Deen 2-9, K. Ocheltree 1-11.
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