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Lexington junior quarterback Josh Fiene had a lot to say about his Minutemen keeping the Saluda Bell Friday night at Gil Rector Stadium. Fiene not only scored a pair of touchdowns, but was also involved in three key punting plays as Lexington snapped a four-game losing skid with a 13-6 MRVC East victory over Richmond.
The Minutemen hold on to the Bell for the third straight year as they improve to 1-1 in the league and 2-5 overall, while the Spartans end their first MRVC East season at 2-3 and will take an overall mark of 2-5 into the beginning of district play next week.
Fiene scored on runs of 20 and 9 yards while ending the night with 75 of Lexington’s 195 rushing yards. He also completed 4 of 12 passes for 46 yards with one interception.
Meanwhile the Richmond offense, which had picked up over 300 yards rushing in each of its last two games, was held to 75 yards on the ground while quarterback Colby Bowles went to the air 21 times for the Spartans and completed 10 for 102 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Richmond Coach Rob Bowers was disappointed in his team’s effort, especially in the first half.
“The first half, we just stunk it up as a football team,” he said. “We weren’t throwing, catching, running, blocking or doing much of anything. Sometimes the O-line gets a lot of blame, and they definitely did not play as well as they had the last couple of weeks, but neither did anybody else.”
Richmond had just 27 yards rushing in the first half to go along with 43 passing yards, while Lexington had 60 rushing yards with 26 more in the air over the first two periods.
Fiene broke up a scoreless game with 4:16 left in the half as he broke several tackles on his way around left end for a 20-yard touchdown run. Brad Watring kicked the conversion and that would be all the scoring in the first half. Fiene’s punt to the Richmond 2-yard line one series earlier set up score as the Lexington defense forced a three-and-out and gave Lexington the ball on the Richmond 24.
This came after the Spartans had let the first scoring opportunity of the game get away as an 11-play drive on their second possession fell 10 yards short of the goal line.
“We’ve got to score when we get it down there,” Bowers said. “That was huge. We have got to get it in the end zone and we didn’t do it.”
Richmond had another scoring chance as both teams battled throughout a scoreless third quarter. The defense force Fiene to punt from deep in his own end zone, but a roughing the kicker call on the Spartans kept the ball in the hands of the Minutemen late in the period.
“They were trying to make something happen,” Bowers explained. “When you block a punt your aiming point can’t be the punter’s body. It wasn’t just one, we had three of four guys hit him. That’s a mistake you just can’t make.”
The lone Richmond takeaway in the game set up the only Spartan touchdown as Jordan Smith picked off a Lexington pass at the Spartan 10 and returned it 28 yards. Six plays later, Bowles connected with Jon Vance, who had 4 receptions for 47 yards, for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 6:03 left in the game, but the kick failed, leaving the home team holding a one-point edge.
Another key punt by Fiene set up the clinching touchdown late in the game as his kick from the Richmond 31 went out of bounds on the Spartan 2. The Minuteman defense stopped the Spartans on fourth and 15 from the Richmond 9. On third and 6, Fiene found running room on the left side for a 9-yard touchdown run with 2:14 left in the game, but the conversion kick failed.
Richmond’s last possession ended as Bo Maze made a great effort to come up with an interception on the Minuteman 26 on the first play. From there Lexington ran out the clock.
Bryce Harrison was the leading ball carrier in the game with 95 yards on 16 attempts for Lexington. Smith had 36 yards on 8 attempts to lead the Spartans. Lexington was flagged 12 times for a loss of 74 yards, while Richmond drew 6 penalties for a loss of 53 yards.
Photo: Spartan running back Arthur Bivines and the rest of the Richmond offense found the going tough against Lexington’s defense. (Photos by Russ Green/The Daily News)