HIGGINSVILLE – The post-game Richmond Spartan huddle most certainly had a different feeling following Friday night’s MRVC East clash with the Huskers at Sam Duncan Field in Higginsville. For the first time this season, it was a victorious post-game meeting between Richmond Coach Rob Bowers and his Spartans. The Richmond offense hit high gear in rolling up 459 yards in a 21-14 decision over Higginsville.
Richmond ran the ball 52 times Friday night to the tune of 353 yards, paced by Arthur Bivines’ 154 yards on 9 carries. In addition, Jamal Robinson celebrated his birthday with 88 yards on 20 carries, Jake Vandiver added 51 on 7 attempts, and Jacob Smith ran for 28 on 4 carries. Quarterback Colby Bowles added 32 yards rushing while completing 6 of 10 passes for 106 yards including a pair of touchdown passes to Jon Vance.
Bowers said the offensive line stepped up its play.
“Skylar Wright, Aaren Mathis, Aaron Goodman, his first game on the O-line, with Kyle Ash and Jon Vance at tight end just did a great job on the line of scrimmage,” he said. “The backs ran hard. Offensively, I was really pleased with everything, except for the same old penalties and turnovers. We clean those up and we’ll be all right.”
The turnover bug once again reared its ugly head for Richmond. The Spartans put the ball on the ground 5 times and lost 4 of them. Two fumbles led to the Huskers’ only scores of the night. Richmond also drew 7 penalties for a loss of 57 yards, however, the Spartans were penalized just once for 5 yards after halftime.
The Spartan defense was quietly having a good effort as well. The Richmond defenders held Higginsville to 133 rushing yards on 34 attempts, while giving up 63 yards passing – all of those in the first half. Bivines and Trey Folvarcik had one interception each for the Spartan secondary.
“The defense played well,” Bowers said. “The only scores they got were right after turnovers. Our offense can’t keep putting them in those situations. When you do that good teams are going to score.”
Higginsville came up with a Spartan turnover on the second play of the game, and three plays later, Lance Kays hooked up with Cameron Zuehlsdorf for a 47-yard scoring strike giving the home team a 6-0 lead following the missed conversion, with less than 2:00 gone in the game.
The Spartan offense came right back with a 9-play drive covering 74 yards with Bowles sneaking in from the 2. His conversion kick was good giving Richmond its first lead of the night, and second of the season. The Huskers grabbed the lead back following another Richmond turnover midway through the second quarter as Daniel Johnson, who led Higginsville on the ground with 69 yards on 16 carries, ran in from the 7-yard line. The 2-point conversion boosted the Husker lead to 14-7. Once again Richmond answered on the next possession with Bowles connecting with Vance for a 30-yard scoring strike to cap a 70-yard, 8-play drive. Robinson ran the conversion for a 15-14 lead at the half.
It was the Richmond defense putting an exclamation point on the game early in the fourth quarter as they stopped a Husker scoring threat from inside the 5-yard line as Bowles recovered a Higginsville fumble on third down with 9:22 left in the game. The offense took the cue and moved from the 5 down the field – boosted by a 64-yard run from Bivines. The only pass play on the drive was the combination of Bowles and Vance hooking up for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 5:05 remaining. Folvarcik’s interception ended the next Higginsville possession and the Spartans ran out the game’s final 2:38 to chalk up victory No. 1.
“I’ve said all along that we’re getting better and we can be a good football team,” Bowers said. “We just need to take care of the football and cut out some of the mistakes that we can correct. We’re getting better, we just need to keep plugging.”
The loss drops Higginsville to 3-2 overall and 0-1 in conference, while Richmond is now 1-2 in the league.
Photo: Richmond’s Nick Jones (46) corrals Husker quarterback Lance Kays in the third quarter of Friday’s game, while Nick Harmon (33) pursues the play. (Photos by Russ Green/The Daily News)