By Chris Yow
FLORENCE, ALA. — A quick-strike offense and stifling defense was the formula for success on Thursday night for host Rogers, which dealt Richland a 35-19 defeat to open the 2020 high school football season.
On the first play from scrimmage, Rogers running back Bryce Hanback took a quick handoff up the middle and broke free down the sideline for a 68-yard touchdown run, giving his team an early 7-0 lead following a successful point after try.
As quickly as the Pirates’ offense scored, it seemed their defense worked at a similar pace, stuffing a pair of Richland runs on the ensuing drive, and picking off Sam Edwards’ first pass of the season. Two plays later, Tyrus Ward extended the host’s lead to 14-0 with a 17-yard scamper to pay dirt.
“We came out a little overconfident, and we weren’t ready for how physical they were up front,” Raiders coach Nick Patterson said.
Edwards echoed his coach’s thoughts.
“I think we thought we had a little too much confidence because we beat them last year, but we found out quick how good they are,” he said.
Rogers torched Richland’s defense in the first half with touchdown runs of 68, 60 and 44 yards, while holding the Raiders to just 85 total yards of offense. Rogers finished the game with 374 yards of offense on the ground alone. Pirates coach Jerry Fulks said the run game is his team’s bread and butter.
“We are a run-heavy offense,” he said. “If we get into situations where we have to pass, it’s usually not pretty. Getting out to an early lead was a big help for our kids.”
Rogers lost 7-0 last season to the Raiders, and finished their season at an uncharacteristic 3-8, their first losing season in six years.
“Having something good happen like scoring on the first play really put some wind in the kids’ sails.”
Trailing 28-0 coming out of halftime, Richland was determined not to go away quietly. The Raiders mirrored their opponents’ first-half drive when Austin Seals ran 62 yards on the opening play of the second half to the end zone for a touchdown to cut into the Pirates’ lead.
On the ensuing drive, Richland forced a fourth-and-1 attempt near midfield, but Rogers converted and drove the additional 55 yards for a touchdown. During that drive, Richland appeared to force a fumble inside the 10-yard-line, but the officials waved the play dead, and Rogers scored two plays later, extending their lead to 35-6.
Edwards then led his squad onto the field and quickly found himself scrambling in the backfield on an option play before breaking a couple tackles and making his way up field. The junior quarterback ran through three more Pirate defenders before finding himself in the end zone for a touchdown with 1:49 left in the third quarter.
Richland pushed back, but it was too late to mount a comeback, though the Raiders added another score when Bryce Miller hit Seals for a 70-yard touchdown on a screen pass to bring the score to 35-19 where it would end.
“We did get on track a little bit in the second half. We’ve got a lot we need to clean up, though. You can’t put yourself in that big of a hole and shoot yourself in the foot so many times and expect to win a ballgame,” Patterson said. “It’s really exciting to get to play football against somebody else, though.”
His team will return to action next week in their home opener against Collinwood.
Rogers (Ala.) 35, Richland 19
At Pirate Field
Team 1 2 3 4 F
RI 0 0 12 7 — 19
RO 14 14 7 0 — 35
RO — Brock Hanback 68 run (11:48), Carter Shelton kick
RO — Tyrus Ward 17 run (9:30), Shelton kick
RO — Hanback 60 run (10:34), Shelton kick
RO — Byron Lane 44 run (0:47), Shelton kick
RI — Austin Seales 62 run (11:36), kick blocked
RO — Hanback 6 run (5:57), Shelton kick
RI — Sam Edwards 53 run (1:49), pass failed
RI – Seals 70 pass from Bryce Miller (3:24), Colton Trimble kick
First Downs 9 16
Rushes-Yards 23-181 44-374
Passing Yards 133 -1
Comp-Att-Int 9-18-2 1-4-0
Penalties-Yards 9-66 7-45
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Rogers — Brock Hanback 21-189, Byron Lane 11-118, Tyrus Ward 3-24,Brodie Giles 2-22, Darby Clemons 4-18, Austin Keaton 1-11, Kolby Beavers 1-0, Brock Killen 1-(-8).
Richland — Austin Seals 15-96, Sam Edwards 4-53, Ethan Ehrhardt 3-34, Mason Lawing 1-(-2)
Rogers — Brock Killen 1-4-0-0 -1
Richland — Bryce Miller 2-4-0, 90, Sam Edwards 7-14-2, 43
Rogers — Austin Keaton 1-(-1)
Richland — Austin Seals 3-67, Jack Norman 3-45, Ethan Ehrhardt 2-20, Trey Walkington 1-1