ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County used a second-half shutout to pull away from Fuquay-Varina 34-14 Friday night, but not before the visiting Bengals put a scare into the home crowd at Raider Stadium for a half.
Richmond County (11-1) trailed by one at halftime as a mix of good tackling and long, methodical rushing drives kept Fuquay (7-5) in the lead of its second-round playoff game in the 4AA Mideast pod.
The Bengals scored on the second play from scrimmage, as quarterback Tyler Williams kept the ball on an option and ran 67 yards for a 7-0 lead with only 52 seconds gone by in the game.
For the first two quarters, the Bengals played the mistake-free football coach Ryan Habich knew his team would have to sustain.
"Our goal was to keep the chains moving, get first downs, get them with our triple option – and we did," Habich said. "We played with them and we showed we could play with them. They're a good football team and our kids were up to the challenge."
Richmond answered on its first possession, capping it off with a 13-yard touchdown run by Diquon Cox to make it 7-7 with 9:44 left in the first quarter.
Fuquay's next drive was methodical, going 70 yards in 14 plays – including three third-down conversions and one fourth-down conversion – ending with a 1-yard touchdown plunge from fullback Damarus Williams.
The Bengals led 14-7 after the first quarter. Kyle Smith picked off Richmond quarterback Brent Flowers just as the Raiders moved the ball into the red zone to start the second.
After Richmond forced a Fuquay punt, the Raiders scored on a 47-yard touchdown run from Cox. Richmond missed the point-after attempt, however, and Fuquay held onto a 14-13 lead, which it carried into halftime.
"We're an option team too, so our kids do a good job playing assignment football," Habich said of his team's first-half defensive performance. "If you don't have the right person on their option, it's a touchdown. They're that fast."
On the first drive of the second half, it was the Raiders who pieced together a long drive. After eight running plays moved the ball to the Fuquay 12, setting up a 4th-and-2, Flowers took to the air and found Trent Bostick, who broke one tackle and went into the end zone.
The Raiders needed just three plays to score on their next drive, ending in a 43-yard run by N.C. State recruit Dakwa Nichols. The Raiders picked off a Tyler Williams pass in the end zone just as the Bengals moved their next drive to the 20, and responded with a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.
Flowers ran it in from 11 yards out to give the Raiders a 34-14 lead with 10:27 left in the game.
After starting off the season 1-3, the Bengals rallied to win six of their final eight.
"They had a great attitude and never gave up," Habich said. "The way they battled back to make top-three in the conference and the second round of the playoffs is a great accomplishment with the way we started. I'm really proud of their attitude and how they finished."
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps