The Richland is riding a three-game winning streak for the first time in 16 years after defeating Collinwood 35-6 last Friday night at Wayne Hobbs Field.
The Raiders (4-3) have outscored opponents 122-6 during the stretch with a dominant defense, line play that has steadily improved and its most consistent passing game in years.
The last time Richland claimed a winning streak of three games or longer came in 2005 when the team won five-straight, including the team’s last playoff victory. The Raiders also technically had a three-game win streak in 2019, although it came retroactively after a 31-13 loss to Fayetteville became a 1-0 victory by forfeit when it was determined the Tigers had used an ineligible player.
The Raiders once again leaned on their defense early in Friday’s non-region contest, deferring to the second half and forcing a three-and-out, including a bone-crunching hit by Tyrell Randolph to break up a pass.
Ethan Workman’s long punt return then gave his team the ball in opponents’ territory. Quarterback Bryce Miller found Workman on a third down pass to move the chains, and Sam Edwards capped the drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown for a 7-0 lead with 5:22 remaining in the first quarter.
Randolph came up with a big play in the secondary for a second-straight drive, tipping away a fourth down pass to come up with another Raider defensive stop. On the following drive, Miller again looked to his most reliable target on third down from the 12-yard line. Workman lost his defender and stood all alone in the end zone for an easy touchdown reception to push the lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Collinwood’s one strength over the course of the night was its line play as the team showed on its third offensive possession.
The Trojans (1-6) went on a long, methodical drive that spanned 80 yards in 10 plays. The Trojans pulled within 14-6 with a short rushing touchdown on fourth down.
The Raiders had just 1:34 left before halftime to extend their lead to two scores. It took Miller and his unit just 28 seconds.
The sophomore quarterback connected with Randolph for a 16-yard pass up the seam. On the following play, Randolph blew the top off the defense, beating his defender for a 42-yard catch and run for the score.
Richland led 21-6 at intermission. Miller completed all six first-half passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
Driving inside opponents’ territory, the Raiders committed a rare turnover when a trick play pass saw Edwards throw an interception. Collinwood took over at its own 13 and went three-and-out.
The Raiders again marched into opponents’ territory on the following drive, but a missed 41-yard field goal kept the score at 21-6.
Richland forced its first of three-straight turnovers on the following drive, though, to put the game out reach. On fourth and four, an incomplete pass by Collinwood turned the ball over on downs.
The Raiders took possession at midfield and capped an eight-play drive with a four-yard touchdown connection between Miller and Workman on fourth and goal.
After Ben Teegarden recovered a fumble on the next series, coaches rewarded the receiver on the first play back on offense as Miller found Teegarden for a 32-yard passing touchdown, the quarterback’s fourth of the evening.
Andrew Huff picked off a pass, and Richland ran out the clock to extend its streak with a 35-6 win. RHS is now 3-0 against Collinwood under head coach Nick Patterson.
While Collinwood fared better than the Raiders’ last two opponents offensively, the Trojans finished with just 196 yards on 37 plays with an interception, a fumble and two turnovers on downs.
Meanwhile, the Raiders finished with 330 yards on 50 plays including a career performance for Miller in the passing game. The sophomore completed 10-of-12 passes for 158 yards and four touchdowns. Randolph was the night’s leading receiver with 67 yards and a touchdown on three receptions. Workman caught five passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns.
Edwards was the team’s leading rusher with 62 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Hewitt chipped in 44 rushing yards on a seven carries and also caught a five-yard pass. Robert Pierce rushed for 35 yards on four carries. Huff rounded out the team leaders with 26 yards on five carries.
The Raiders will face their toughest test since the opener against Cornersville when region leader Forrest comes to town this Friday. The Rockets are 5-2 including a 3-0 region record, just one win away from clinching the regular season title.
Richland will need at least one more region win to advance to the postseason and could need two depending on the outcome of the Summertown versus Mt. Pleasant game.
The TSSAA schedule has paid the Raiders no favors to close the season, giving each of the team’s last three opponents a bye week before playing RHS.