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Things didn’t start well for Richmond Friday night at Carrollton and it continued to go downhill from there as the Spartans dropped a 21-6 MRVC East battle. The fourth-ranked Class 2 Trojans took advantage of some early Richmond miscues as they jumped to a 14-0 lead in their conference opener and then turned things over to their defense as Carrollton improved to 4-0 overall. The loss dropped the Spartans to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the league.
The first Richmond possession of the game ended when a Spartan receiver fell down on a pattern and the ball was intercepted by Carrollton. However, the Trojans gave the ball right back on the next play as Payton Fields recovered a Carrollton fumble. The Trojans did not let the next scoring chance get away as an unsportsmanlike conduct call against Richmond turned a fourth and goal into a first and goal from the 2. One play later Ross Flick scored on a 2-yard run as Flick began his 142-yard, two-touchdown evening.
“First pass we throw, the receiver was running wide open, fell down and the ball goes right to the defender,” Richmond Coach Rob Bowers said. “We didn’t do a very good job of keeping our composure and fighting through some adversity. We let it affect how we played and that in turn gave Carrollton more momentum.”
Another unsportsmanlike conduct flag on the following Richmond punt gave the Trojans excellent field position, and then a roughing the passer call aided Carrollton in another scoring drive.
“I thought that who ever survives the first quarter in a big game atmosphere and eliminates their mistakes could get the victory,” Trojan Coach Greg Hough said. “I thought we did a fine job of turning our backs to adversity and putting it behind us. A lot of kids were playing with emotion tonight on both sides.”
Flick’s second touchdown came on a 9-yard run around the right side to cap the nine-play, 59-yard drive and Cody Renzelman’s second PAT spotted the Trojans to a 14-0 lead on the first play of the second period. Carrollton would end the night with 295 yards rushing on 47 attempts, while the Richmond offense struggled. The Spartans ran 30 times, but could manage just 107 yards, with Arthur Bivines leading the way with 50 of those on 11 attempts.
Carrollton signal caller Jason Mayden went to the air just 9 times and completed 2 for 27 yards as he missed his final 7 attempts. Richmond quarterback Colby Bowles hit 6 of his 18 passes for 66 yards, with Jake Vandiver catching 4 for 60 yards.
Bowers said the Trojans controlled the line on both sides of the ball.
“We got beat on the line of scrimmage, especially in the first half, badly,” he said. “Our kids got worrying more about bad calls things they don’t need to worry about. They just need to play and play like they are capable and we didn’t do that. We did better in the second half, but not good enough to get it done.”
Bowers added his defense just missed too many tackles throughout the night.
On the other sideline, Hough was proud of the way his line faced what he called earlier in the week – its biggest challenge of the season.
“We returned only one starter on our offensive line from a pretty productive one last year,” he said. “Richmond does a good job of eliminating things we do just because of their size and athletic ability. With our line being young, that was a huge challenge for them and they stepped up.”
The Spartans did manage to get back in the game on their first possession of the second half as they drove 64 yards in 13 plays with Bowles finding Luke Hook in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass. However, the drive ate up most of the clock in the third quarter as just 3:32 remained when Hook hauled in the scoring strike that ended the Trojan scoreless string at 14 quarters.
“Carrollton does a good job of taking away things we like to do,” Bowers said. “It forced us to bang it in there and take it down and score, which our kids did a nice job of, but you just can’t play half a game and beat a good team.”
Hough said he thought it would be a low-scoring contest.
“Honestly if you would have asked me after watching film on Richmond that we would have given up only 6 points I might have said no,” he said. “I thought 14 points would win this game because I thought both defenses were that good.”
The Trojans quickly answered the Richmond score with one of their own as Damien Owens breaking loose for a 32-yard touchdown run with 11:46 remaining in the game. Owens added 97 rushing yards for Carrollton on just 5 carries. The Spartans were able to pick up just two more first downs on their remaining two possessions with Carrollton taking a knee for the final two plays to seal the win.
PHOTO: Richmond’s Arthur Bivines breaks a tackle to help set up the Spartan’s only touchdown in Friday night’s loss at Carrollton. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News)