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Coming off a disappointing performance one week earlier, the Richmond Spartans traveled to Holden to begin the 2009 MRVC East schedule against the defending champion Eagles. It just took one play to get the spark going as the Spartans dominated the Eagles 28-6.
Richmond, now 1-1, dominated the 0-2 Eagles from the opening kick – right up until a return of a Spartan fumble for a touchdown on the final play of the game ruined the shutout. To make things worse for Holden, the Eagles lost three starters to injuries in the game and all three could be out for the season. The Spartans rolled up 295 yards on the ground while limiting Holden to 111 rushing yards and 29 more passing by dominating along the line.
“I said our offensive and defensive line was going to be good,” Richmond Coach Rob Bowers said. “They can be a good offensive line and defensive line. They just have to let themselves be that. Tonight – the first half especially – they pretty much dominated.”
It took Richmond just one snap of the ball to get the offense rolling. After the Spartan defense forced a punt on the opening possession of the game, Richmond quarterback Colby Bowles broke loose on a quarterback Iso and didn’t stop until he reached the end zone 40 yards later.
It was the first of three touchdown runs for the junior signal caller as he ended the night with 138 rushing yards. However, it was the first play that seemed to get things going for the Spartans according to Bowers.
“The thing with these kids is that they needed something good to happen to build their confidence,” he said. “After that, we played pretty well, especially in the first half.”
Bowles’ second touchdown covered 53 more yards with 7:40 left in the first half, and Trent Dial added the second of his four conversion kicks for a comfortable 14-0 Richmond lead.
“The more success we had, the more confident we became and the better we got. It’s a snowball – you get it rolling and then they start believing they can do it and really start playing harder,” Bowers said. “It’s just a night and day difference in our mental framework tonight as opposed to last week.”
The Spartans built the halftime lead to 21-0 as Bowles completed his only pass of the game to set up the score. Kane Southwick’s leaping grab of a 35-yard completion on fourth and 11 moved the ball to the Holden 2-yard line. On the next play, Bowles finished the drive on the next snap.
Arthur Bivines stretched the Richmond cushion to 28-0 with a 9-yard run to cap the opening Spartan possession of the second half. Bivines, who ended the night with 64 yards on 10 attempts, broke through the line untouched for the score.
Also for the Spartans, Jamal Robinson carried 5 times for 40 yards, Landon Walker ran 5 times for 30, and Reny Reis picked up 16 yards on 3 attempts.
With the Spartans in control of the game offensively, the defense took over to keep Holden off the board.
“Tonight, we ran to the football,” Bowers said of his defensive effort. “We hit better, we tackled better and were more aggressive. I knew we were better than we showed last week. I knew were a good defensive team. Tonight they came out and proved it.”
It appeared the Spartans were about to register their first shutout since a 35-0 blanking of Carrollton on Sept. 23, 2005.
However, on the final play of the game, Holden’s James Gray scooped up a Richmond fumble and won the 55-yard race to the end zone.
Gray was also the leading rusher for the Eagle offense with 62 yards on 8 carries.
The Spartans now turn their attention to Friday night’s game with Savannah. The Savages are 2-0 following a 37-7 win at Excelsior Springs last week. Holden will travel to Lexington.
PHOTO: The Richmond Spartan defense swarms to stop Holden running back James Gray during Friday night’s MRVC East opener. The Spartan defense held the Eagles to 140 total yards in a 28-6 road victory. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)