Richmond’s Stefan Fenwick jumps over Keenan Mrad as he runs the ball during a football game Friday, October 30, 2015 at Richmond High School.
They couldn’t contain them, let alone stop them.
The Richmond High School football team is just too good.
Croswell-Lexington High School did its best to defeat Richmond, but every time they drew within striking distance, the Blue Devils found a way to rise to the occasion.
Ultimately, that led to a 27-21 Division 4 playoff victory. Richmond moves on to face Notre Dame Prep, which defeated Marysville, 54-13.
It was Richmond’s second victory over Cros-Lex this season. This time, it was much more difficult than the Week 3, 35-12 victory.
Richmond (9-1) got off to a great start to open the game, as Andrew Hamel broke off a 39-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Seven plays later, Richmond opened the scoring on a tight rope catch from Anthony Tavano in the corner of the end zone.
The score gave Richmond a 7-0 lead with 8:27 left in the first quarter.
The Pioneers (6-4) were undeterred and immediately looked for a way to respond. Joe Duff put the Pioneers in great position with a 48-yard run and then scored two plays later on a 3-yard run to tie the game at seven with 6:18 left in the first quarter.
The Richmond running game continued to pick up steam and found its groove on its next drive. Richmond ran the ball right through the Pioneers defense and went ahead again on a 7-yard touchdown from Hamel. That gave Richmond a 14-7 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Pioneers appeared ready to respond again on their next drive, but the Richmond defense stiffened in the red zone. After a long drive, the Pioneers were forced to turn over the ball on downs at the Richmond 11-yard line.
The defensive stand appeared to give Richmond even more momentum. Tavano hauled in a 28-yard reception to give Richmond a new set of downs on third down and D’Sean Hamilton capped the drive with a 3-yard score to give Richmond a 21-7 lead with three minutes left in the first half.
The Pioneers went back to work on offense before the end of the half. And just like most key situations, they gave the ball to Joe Duff. The senior running back, who had 168 yards rushing, responded with a pair of key runs and Justin Johnston capped the drive with a two-yard quarterback draw to bring the Pioneers within 21-14 at halftime.
As the second half began, Richmond went right back to work. But just when it appeared the Blue Devils were gaining ground, Cros-Lex senior linebacker Matthew Kettlewell made his presence felt. He intercepted Chase Churchill near midfield and returned the ball deep into Richmond territory.
Johnston took over there and found Luke Wilson for a 10-yard touchdown reception midway through the third quarter to tie the game at 21.That’s where the game remained entering the fourth quarter.
With its season on the line, Richmond took over and did what it always does. The team found a way to make several big plays, none of which were bigger than Tavano’s 7-yard touchdown reception with just over 11 minutes left to play.
That gave Richmond a 27-21 lead after the point after attempt failed with just over 11 minutes remaining in the game. After the Pioneers were forced to punt on their next drive, Richmond got the ball back and instantly began driving down the field.
As the Blue Devils closed in on the end zone, it appeared all but certain they would score and go ahead by two possessions. But after a long drive, Richmond fumbled on its own 11-yard-line and Cros-Lex recovered to give the team new life with 4:52 left to play in the game.
The Pioneers drove all of the way back down the field but stalled at the Richmond 20. That’s where Johnston threw three consecutive incompletions to turn over the ball on downs.
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at [email protected] him on twitter @jhayes1136.