Battlin' Patriots Throw Scare into Raiders
“Shock the world,” was the early second-half cry from a Pinecrest fan as it became evident the Patriot football team was not going away at Richmond Senior Friday night.
The Patriots were within three points of the No. 3 ranked Raiders twice in the fourth quarter, with the ball, and a chance to tie the game or take the lead. The final result was a 27-18 loss after the Raiders’ Robert Williams sealed it with a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown on the second to last play of the game.
Patriot quarterback Dwayne Simpson carried the ball 32 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns. The defense held the Raiders to just four first downs and 91 net yards in the second half.
The Patriots (5-5, 2-2 SEC) and Hoke County (9-2, 2-2) go into Friday’s regular-season finale at Pinecrest tied for third place in the conference.
“The kids battled, and they have to keep battling, because a victory next week keeps us in our region at a pretty high seed,” Patriot coach Chris Metzger said of his playoff-bound squad. “It was just a great effort by the kids. They wanted it badly.”
Kole Stanley turned a short pass from quarterback Brent Flowers into 62-yard scoring play and a 7-0 Raider lead about midway through the first period. Early in the second, the Patriots had second-and-goal at the Raider three, but had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Jackson Maples when a false start penalty cost them five yards.
The home team led 14-3 late in the half and was driving for more when a sack of Flowers for a six yard loss by cornerback Adrian Webster was followed by an end zone interception by safety Sam Brower.
Brower fought and thrashed his way to the 34-yard line before a half-dozen members of the Raider offensive unit finally brought him down.
“I knew there wasn’t much time left so I was trying to get as much yardage as I could,” he said of the extra effort that marked the Patriots’ performance throughout the game.
The Patriots almost cashed in on that opportunity when Nick Lacy got behind the Raider defense with 4.5 seconds remaining, but was unable to hold on to a long pass thrown by Simpson.
A 62-yard field goal attempt by Maples was short on the first series after the intermission. The next time the Pats had the ball, Simpson carried it nine times for 68 yards on a 73-yard touchdown drive. Included was a 42-yard scamper and a fourth-down conversion at midfield.
The senior scored the touchdown and ran for two points, making it 14-11 with 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Paul Hoggard, head coach of the Raiders (9-0, 4-0) wasn’t surprised things were going this way.
“They play us tough every year,” he said. “We left a lot of points off the board in the first half. We let them hang around.”
A Raider offense that gained over 250 yards in the first half was forced to punt on its first two second-half possessions. The defense was doing a good job of stopping both the dive play and the wide pitch.
“We focused on that all week,” Brower said of the pitch option. “We needed to stretch it out. They scored a couple of touchdowns in the first half, but I thought we stood up and played well.”
With a chance to take the lead, the Patriots made one first down before being forced to punt. The Raiders then converted a huge fourth-and-eight at the Patriot 30 and went on to increase their lead to 21-11 with 3:59 remaining in the game.
But there were more thrills to come for Patriot fans and chills for those on the other side.
The wheels appeared to be coming off the Patriot train when the Raider kickoff scooted by Simpson. He chased it back to his own eight-yard line, but somehow returned it 74 yards before being caught from behind at the Raider 18.
Joe Anderson picked up eight yards and Justin Sengkhenpong six for a first down at the four.
Two plays later, Simpson scored and the conversion by Maples made it 21-18 with 1:48 remaining.
The Patriots had all their timeouts and forced a three-and-out when linebacker Frankie Painter stopped Raider star Diquon Cox for no gain on third-and-six. Starting from his own 19, Simpson completed a third-down pass to Levi Tew for a first down. Two plays later the interception return for a touchdown by Williams ended it.
Four of the Patriots’ five losses have come against teams ranked in the top 10 when they played them. Hoke’s only losses are to Richmond and Scotland. Senior defensive lineman Josh McMillan wants more than praise for a good effort.
“Sometimes you’ve got to do more than just hang around,” he said before boarding the bus. “You have to compete and finish — close out the game. Hopefully, we can come back tomorrow with a good practice and win next week.”
Pinecrest 0 3 8 7 — 18
Richmond 7 7 0 13 — 27
Scoring: (R) Stanley 63-pass from Flowers (McDonald kick); (P) Maples 27-FG; (R)Goodwin 21-run (McDonald kick); (P) Simpson 1-run (Simpson run); (R) Cox 3-run (McDonald kick); (P) Simpson –run (Maples kick); (R) Williams 55-int. return.(kick failed)
Team stats: First downs – (P) 15 (R) 15; Rushing – (P) 42-188 (R) 36-173; Passing – (P) 7-17, 50 yds., 2 int. (R)8-10, 181 yds., Td, int.; Fumbles – (P) 2-0 (R) 5-0; Penalties – (P) 5-45 (R) 4-22; Punts – (P) 3-38.0 (R)4-32.5.
Individual stats: Rushing – (P) Simpson 32-143, Anderson 4-25, Sengkhenpong 5-19, Roper 1-1 (R)Cox 18-127, Goodwin 7-44, Stanley 4-12, Flowers 7-(-10); Passing – (P) Simpson 7-17m 50 yds., 2 int. (R)Flowers 8-10, 181 yds., Td, int.; Receiving – (P) Roper 3-21, Ray 2-16, Tew 2-13 (R) Goodwin 3-43, Cox 2-13, Stanley 1-63, Bostic 1-47, Walden 1-15.
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