Any of the suspense of Friday night’s MRVC East contest between Richmond and the Panthers at Knob Noster was gone just a few minutes after the 7 p.m. kickoff. Following a frustrating two weeks, the Spartans unloaded on the Panthers 48-0 to record their first shutout since a 35-0 blanking of Carrollton on Sept. 23, 2005.
Richmond put 34 points on the board in the first quarter as the Spartans improved to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the league, while dropping Knob Noster to 3-3 overall and 0-2 in conference. How dominant were the Spartans in the opening period? Richmond had 10 first downs and 220 yards of offense, while the Panthers had just 6 yards of offense. Things were going so well for Richmond that when a bad snap on a Trent Dial extra point attempt sailed over his head in the opening quarter, he almost completed a desperation pass for a 2-point conversion.
Spartan Coach Rob Bowers said a dominating performance by his team was just what the doctor ordered.
“We needed something good to happen,” he said. “We were getting a little down. We hadn’t played very well – at least for halves. The second half against Higginsville and the second half against Carrollton, we played much better, but we needed to put a whole game together.”
Richmond ended the night with 425 yards of offense – 332 on the ground with Arthur Bivines picking up 100 of those on 15 carries, while Colby Bowles completed 5 of 9 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. Six different Spartans found the end zone with Reny Reis scoring a pair of touchdowns. The Spartan defense cashed in two Panther turnovers in the first quarter and turned those into touchdowns as Knob Noster was held to 140 yards of offense. Panther quarterback Ivan Pyszka completed just 3 of 18 pass attempts for 48 yards.
“Defensively we played well against the same type of offense we faced last week,” Bowers said. “Tonight, we lined up correctly, we made tackles, and the ends did a nice job of keeping containment. We just did things the way we were supposed to tonight and it paid off for us.”
Richmond was on the scoreboard six plays into its first possession as Bivines, who began the drive with a 23-yard run, capped it with a 29-yard burst with 7:33 left. Dial kicked the first of his 6 conversions and the rout was on. On the Panthers’ first snap following the kick, Kane Southwick picked off a Pyszka pass on the Knob Noster 35-yard line, and on the next play, Bowles hooked up with Jake Vandiver for a touchdown pass just 16 seconds following the first Richmond score. Vandiver ended the night with 4 receptions for 77 yards.
The next Richmond drive lasted three plays and covered 52 yards with Bowles taking care of the final 44 on an option around right end. Fritz Kellerman came up with a Panther fumble on the ensuing kickoff to get the ball right back for the Spartan offense on the Knob Noster 25. Four plays later Reis crashed in from the 3-yard line. The next Panther possession ended after three incomplete passes and a punt, followed by a 6-play 60-yard Richmond drive. Reis’ second touchdown run came from 14 yards out and the Spartans held a 34-0 lead with 26 seconds remaining in the opening period.
The Panthers picked up their first first down of the game on the second play of the second quarter, but the Spartans did not find the end zone for the remainder of the half.
“Tonight, we created some good things for us and it got to snowballing,” Bowers said. “Thirty-four points in the first quarter – that’s putting them up there. I was a little disappointed in the second quarter. We lost some focus and didn’t play quite as sharp. We came back out in the second half and put two good series, one with the first group and the second with a group that was a mix, together.”
The Spartans got the turbo clock going following their first drive after halftime with Jamal Robinson scoring on a 5-yard run to cap a 16-play, 76-yard march. Gabe Vandiver tacked on the final Richmond points as he jetted around the right side and down the sideline for a 58-yard run on the second play of the final quarter.
PHOTO: Reny Reis (44) scores the first of his two touchdowns for the Spartans in their 48-0 win at Knob Noster Friday night. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News)