Richmond County showed why it is one of the top contenders in the 4A classification, taking a road trip to Raleigh and defending previously undefeated Cardinal Gibbons, 45-28, Friday night.
The Crusaders drop to 2-1 on the year, and the contest against the Raiders served as a good measuring stick for Cardinal Gibbons, mainly containing junior quarterback Caleb Hood, who accounted for three touchdowns, and ran circles around the Crusaders defense. When he wasn’t picking up the yards with his legs, he managed to find open receivers for big gains.
“We didn’t have an answer for the quarterback,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Steven Wright said. “He’s a super-talented kid. He made some plays tonight, and we couldn’t get off the field on third-and-longs.”
Richmond County was good on the other downs as well, but even when it appeared the Crusaders had them stopped, Hood and his teammates found a way to keep the drive going, daggers in the heart of the Cardinal Gibbons defense.
“It’s tough to keep yourself in a ballgame when they convert third downs at that rate,” Wright said. “They executed when they needed. That’s a heck of a football team, and they are well-coached.”
Wright said the inability to get stops on third down became “real frustrating,” but he realized his team was facing a Football Bowl Subdivision talent at quarterback.
“He made the plays,” Wright said. “Hats off to him, he made the plays when he had to make them.”
Hood finished with 393 yards of total offense.
The only thing that stopped the Raiders in the first half was themselves. Richmond County was penalized eight times in the first half, but other than that, it was on a roll. The Raiders scored on three of their four drives in the first half and converted on six third-down attempts, including a third-and-15 on their final scoring drive.
In the first quarter Richmond started the game on a 13-play, 72-play scoring drive, capped off by a 6-yard pass from Hood to Jahiem Covington. The Raiders would score on their next two drives, taking a 21-7 lead to the locker room at the half.
Gibbons cut the lead to 14-7 when Andrew Harvey (14-31 180) hit Jack Grazen for a 28-yard touchdown, but Richmond wasted little time getting back on the board. The Raiders went on a five-play scoring drive, highlighted when Hood converted on a third-and-15, hitting Dalton Stroman for a 38-yard gain. Two plays later Hood took it 28 yards for a touchdown.
The Gibbons defense forced the first punt of the half on Richmond’s next drive, and the Crusaders threatened to score before intermission. Harvey connected on four passes, but threw three straight incomplete passes after moving into the Raiders territory. Noah Lawrence missed a 46-yard field-goal attempt as time expired.
Richmond started the second half with a penalty, but true to form, it would make up for the mistake. Facing a third-and-12, Hood completed a short pass to the 6-4 Stroman, who broke a tackle, made another player miss and outraced everyone to the end zone for a 68-yard touchdown. Stroman finished the game with seven catches for 143 yards.
Gibbons gambled on the next drive, and it paid off. The Crusaders went on a 13-play drive and scored on fourth-and-11 when Harvey found Grazen again, this time for a 20-yard score.
But too much Hood and Covington in the third and fourth quarters put the game out of reach, each scoring a rushing touchdown on consecutive drives. An interception by Raiders’ defender Xavion Lindsey, the first of the season, set up a 7-yard score by Convington, his second score of the night.
Records: Richmond County (4-0), Cardinal Gibbons (2-1)
THREE WHO MATTERED
(Caleb Hood — Richmond County) The Raiders junior quarterback was all over the place, passing for two scores, and rushing for one more. The three-star quarterback ran Richmond’s run-pass-option offense to near perfection, passing for 316 yards. The son of former UNC player Errol Hood, the younger Hood has offers from North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke and ECU, among others.
(Jack Grazen — Cardinal Gibbons) Crusaders senior running back had three touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing. Grazen rushed for 125 yards on 15 carries and caught two passes for 48 yards.
(Jahiem Covington — Richmond County) A rare senior in the Raiders lineup, Covington caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Hood and ran for two more.
Richmond was able to put together long drives thoughout the game, keeping the pressure on the Cardinals’ defense. The Raiders went on two drives that went more than 10 plays, and they were gold on third down. Richmond converted on nine third-down plays in the win.
The Raiders saw plenty of yellow flags to match their helmets. Richmond had 18 penalties for 126 yards.
R — Jahiem Covington 6-yard pass from Caleb Hood (West kick)
R — Jahiem Covington 2-yard run (West kick)
C — Jack Grazen 28-yard pass from Andrew Harvey (Lawrence kick)
R — Hood 28-yard run (West kick)
R — Hood 68 yard pass to Dalton Stroman (West kick)
C — Jack Grazen 20-yard pass from Andrew Harvey (Lawrence kick)
R — Mack West 31-yard field goal
R — Covington 7-yard run (West kick)
C — Grazen 20-yard run (Lawrence)
C — Myles Harp 3-yard run (Lawrence Kick)
Rolesville 61, South Garner 0
Leesville Road 56, Cummings 21
Cleveland 42, Fuquay Varina 0
Southern Durham 21, Seventy-First 18
Enloe 51, Apex 33
Clayton 24, Garner 21
Green Hope 28, Triton 21
Harnett Central 16, Southeast Raleigh 12
Dudley 35, Hillside 14
Middle Creek 49, Athens Drive 0
Riverside 27, Northern Durham 7
Panther Creek 23, Apex Friendship 20
Wake Forest 49, Millbrook 7
West Brunswick 16, Cary 14
Knightdale 35, West Johnston 6
Orange 21, Williams 13