ROCKINGHAM — In a season where the Cary football team lost four one-possession games, the Imps battled their way into the postseason as tested in close games as any team in the 4AA Mideast pod.
Against powerhouse Richmond though, it wasnt going to be easy to keep it that close.
For the first time all year, an opposing team was able to pull away from Cary as the bigger, stronger, faster Richmond County beat the Imps 40-7 in the first-round of the playoffs Friday.
The Raiders scored on its first play from scrimmage, a 54-yard weaving touchdown run by Dakwa Nichols on an option pitch.
The hardest thing was to simulate their athleticism and their speed. First play of the game, weve got numbers and we just dont get there, said Cary coach Ben Kolstad.
But Cary (5-6) had an answer, needing just 13 seconds to receive a kickoff and line up for a 59-yard run by senior Marquise Sherrod-Ponds.
Richmonds first score included a blocked PAT, and Cary led 7-6 after the extra point from Phillip Thomas.
For a few minutes, Raider Stadium was quiet.
But a mixture of stalled Cary drives and extended ones by Richmond the Raiders (10-1) went 3-of-4 on fourth downs let the game get out of hand.
The Raiders scored on a 59-yard touchdown pass from Brent Flowers to Kole Stanley in the first quarter, then added second-quarter scores by Diquon Cox (9-yard run) and Miles Grant (11-yard run) totake a 27-7 halftime lead.
Richmonds Trent Bostick caught a fade pattern for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 8:40 in the third quarter. Flowers, on fourth down, added the nights final score with a 34-yard touchdown scramble.
The Raiders out-gained Cary 519-232.
We were up 7-6, weve got new life, and then we give up the long touchdown pass and it took the life out of us, Kolstad said. We wouldve had to have to play perfect football to beat this team and I thought we were capable of that. But our kids stepped up.
Cary was shut out in the second half, but kept Richmond off the board in the fourth quarter.
Theyre good, Kolstad said. Wed make an adjustment and theyd make an adjustment. We tried to stay one step ahead of them and just couldnt.
Sherrod-Ponds had 82 yards rushing and caught four passes for 53 receiving. Quarterback Scott Kinsey, making his second career start for injured senior Josh Dawson, completed 12-of-20 passes for 133 yards and two interceptions.
Weve had some tough times. Weve had some really close games. Minus this one, weve been in every game weve played in, Kolstad said. They just didnt quit. They just kept giving me everything they had and continued to improve and get better and thats hard to do when you lose as many tough ones as we did.
For Richmond, Nichols had 133 yards rushing on eight carries while Flowers had 95 on seven and Cox had 94 on 14 carries. Flowers also added 91 yards passing, completing six of his nine throws.
The Raiders will host Fuquay-Varina in the second round.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps