Richmond Rolls Past Patriots
Had it not been for a fighting incident way back in week two, Pinecrest might be still be playing for a spot in the state playoffs in spite of Friday night’s fourth loss in a row, 51-7 at Richmond Senior.
As it is, next Friday night’s home game against Hoke County closes out the regular season. There will be no postseason for the Patriots because of the ruling by the NCHSAA that came out of that August game against Union Pines.
Three fumbles during a four minute span of the first half led to 20 Raider points, increasing a 7-0 Patriot deficit to 27-0. For the second week in a row, the Patriots lost six funbles and had seven turnovers.
Now 0-4 in the Southeastern Conference and 6-4 overall, Coach Chris Metzger’s squad got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by Damion Pride and the extra point kick by Dillon Maples.
“We have one game to find it,” the Patriot coach said afterward. “We have one game to lay it on the line and that’s our job as coaches. We have to keep fighting the good fight and work for our kids.”
Knowing there was no margin for error against the No. 4 ranked (AP poll) team in the state, the Patriot offense was sharp on the opening series of the game. Quarterback Kyle Ocheltree completed a 15-yard pass to Dannie Monroe and Pride had a 21-yard gain as it moved the ball to the Raider 21. But on fourth and two, Maples pulled his 37-yard field goal attempt wide to the left.
The Raiders then gave the Patriot defense a quick sample of what a diversified offense can do. Quarterback Laron Ellerbe mixed the run and pass on a nine-play 75-yard drive capped by Walter Ellerbe’s 2-yard touchdown plunge.
The next four minutes were nightmarish for the visitors. On the first play after a Raphael Alston fumble, Laron Ellerbe aired it out to wide receiver Andy Shuler for a 58-yard score. On the ensuing kickoff, the Raiders’ Steve Houston stripped the ball from Alston and scored another touchdown.
“Obviously when you give a team an inch they get momentum,” Metzger said. “They had some surges.”
On the next series, another Patriot fumble led to an 8-yard touchdown run by Walter Ellerbe. Still another bobble on a punt return, an interception, and then a short punt by Maples gave the Raider offense short fields that led to a field goal and two more touchdowns. All of that added up to a 44-0 halftime deficit for the Pats.
The Patriot coach was asked if the fumble bug that has bit his team recently might have become contagious.
“I think it has and we’ve got to find a way to remedy it quick,” he said. “There were times when we moved the ball and that’s football. We have to find a way next week.”
The final Raider points came on the opening series of a second half shortened by a running clock. Pride carried the ball five times for 47 yards and caught a pass from Ocheltree for five more during a 90-yard fourth quarter touchdown drive for the Patriots.
The Raiders (9-1, 4-0) out-gained the Patriots 424 to 210. Pride finished with 92 yards on 12 carries. Ocheltree picked up 62 on 14 attempts. The Patriot quarterback also completed five of nine passes for 38 yards. Monroe had two leaping grabs for a total of 27 yards that brought back memories of former Patriot star, James Baldwin III. Terry Marsh had the fumble recovery on the lone Raider turnover.
“Yes, they’re a great team,” Metzger said of Richmond. “We sure hope they bring home a state championship because they’re from our conference and it’s the best conference in the state.”
Inside linebacker, David Smith, the Patriot leader in tackles this season, dressed, but didn’t see action because of an injury. Another senior linebacker, Adam McDuffie, had his season end with a broken wrist two weeks ago.
Hoke (3-7, 1-3) defeated Purnell Swett 14-7 for its first conference win Friday night. Lumberton defeated Scotland 24-19 in the other league contest.
Pinecrest 0 0 0 7 7
Richmond 21 23 7 0 51
Scoring — ( R) W. Ellerbe 2-run (Conner kick); ( R) Shuler 58-pass from L. Ellerbe (Conner kick); ( R) Houston 15-fumble return (Conner kick); ( R) W. Ellerbe 8-run (kick failed); ( R) Conner 19-field goal; ( R) Shuler 40 pass from L. Ellerbe; ( R) Nichols 4-run (Conner kick); ( R) Nichols 68-run (Conner kick); (P) Pride 1-run (Maples kick).
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