By Chris Yow
LYNNVILLE — Rest or rust? That has been the question for most teams coming off the mandated 14-day quarantine period following positive COVID-19 tests.
For Richland, the answer was not very clear on Friday night in a 20-6 loss to Region 5-1A foe Fayetteville.
“I thought we had a good week of practice,” Richland coach Nick Patterson said. “We had a good game plan, and we did some things really well tonight, but they were just too quick on the ends for us.”
Patterson’s game plan was to run between the tackles on offense, and the plan worked well on the Raiders’ first drive. Getting as close as the Fayetteville 24-yard-line on the 10-play drive, Richland showed no signs of rust until a pair of negative plays turned the ball over on downs to the Tigers.
Fayetteville’s offense continued the trend, going backward on their first two plays. On first down, Richland’s Johnathan Young sacked Sam Holdemeyer, and the Raiders then dropped Tigers’ running back KJ Jackson behind the line of scrimmage on second down. Unfortunately for Richland, Holdemeyer stayed upright on third down and heaved a pass to Isaiah Thomison, who took it 82 yards to pay dirt, followed by a Graham Pace 2-point conversion to go up 8-0 in the first quarter.
Richland’s offense had success on the first play in each of the next two possessions, gaining first-down yardage, but then were forced to punt three plays later each time.
Fayetteville took advantage of the tired Raiders defense, going 74 yards on eight plays, including a 37-yard scamper from Pace on 3rd-and-6 that set the Tigers up for a 2-yard Pace score on the next play.
“Graham Pace is a beast,” second-year Fayetteville head coach Kenny Morson said. “He has big-play ability every time he touches the ball for us.”
Indeed he does, as Pace finished as the game’s leading rusher with 145 yards on 17 carries, most of which came from the ‘wildcat’ formation.
On the ensuing drive, Richland answered with a six-play drive that covered 63 yards and ended with a Trey Walkington 13-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Sam Edwards connected with Austin Seals on a 36-yard pass from midfield to set up two straight Walkington carries.
Fayetteville, however, extended the lead back to 14 points on the next drive when Pace went 29 yards to pay dirt with just under two minutes to play in the half, which proved to be the final margin following a scoreless second half.
Patterson was complimentary of his team’s effort in the game, but credited Fayetteville’s athleticism for creating the space necessary to win.
“They’re a good football team, and we played right there with them for the entire night,” he said. “We just have to be able to finish those drives when we get on their side of the field.”
Morson said he was impressed with Richland’s strength. Fayetteville improved to 5-1 on the year, and 4-0 in Region 5-1A play. They have won five straight after dropping their season opener.
Richland fell to 2-2 on the year, and is now 1-1 in the region with three league games remaining against Cornersville, Huntland and Moore County. Being on the field at all after two weeks off, however, was a good feeling.
“We are happy to be out here playing football tonight,” Patterson said. “It was awful the last two weeks.”
Fayetteville 20, Richland 6
At Wayne Hobbs Stadium, Lynnville
F 8 12 0 0 20
R 0 6 0 0 6
FHS – Isaiah Thomison 82 pass from Sam Holdmeyer (5:05) Graham Pace run
FHS – Pace 2 run (7:28) Run failed
RHS – Trey Walkington 13 run (4:22) Kick failed
FHS – Pace 29 run (1:53) Run failed
First Downs 14 11
Rushes-Yards 43-234 32-93
Passing Yards 91 79
Com-Att-Int 3-5-0 7-10-1
Penalties-Yards 4-22 1-15
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Fayetteville – Graham Pace 17-145, KJ Jackson 20-103, Cam Sheridan 1-0, Sam Holdmeyer 5-(-14)
Richland – Austin Seals 19-84, Trey Walkington 2-14, Sam Edwards 10-3, Mason Lawing 1-(-8)
Fayetteville – Sam Holdmeyer 3-5-1-0 91
Richland – Sam Edwards 7-10-0-1 79
Fayetteville – Isaiah Thomison 2-86, Jaterious Derrick 1-5
Richland – Austin Seals 2-42, Ethan Workman 1-12, Jack Norman 1-10, Mason Lawing 1-7, Ethan Ehrhardt 1-4, Landon Griggs 1-4