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By Russ Green-Sports Editor
Austin Evans’ 80-yard kickoff return provided the spark O’Hara needed to snap their four-game losing streak to Richmond Friday night in the 2014 season opener at Tom Adams Field. Evans’ return came right after the Spartans had taken a 14-13 lead late in the first half of what had been an even contest. After that, it was all O’Hara as the Celtics romped to a 49-20 victory.
It was the first opening-game loss for the Spartans since a 24-14 setback at Lawson to begin the 2009 campaign.
The Celtics put up 490 yards of offense against a young Spartan defense with five backs combining for 348 yards on the ground. Gerard Harker led the way with 94 yards on eight carries, while Evans added 68 more on five attempts. Quarterback Michael Briggs ran for 71 yards on three touchdowns, while also completing eight of 19 passes for 142 more yards.
“Their backs are quick and all are returning starters,” Richmond coach Rob Bowers said. “Their skill kids are good and we struggled handling them. We’ve got to go to work and get better.”
Richmond managed to put up some respectable offensive numbers with 279 rushing yards, but two interceptions and a lost fumble proved to be costly.
“We didn’t execute very well – we just didn’t play very well in any phase of the game,” Bowers said. “When you do that, you don’t normally win.”
Quinton Maxwell led the ground game with 98 yards on 14 carries, with Tommy Wedgeworth picking up 74 more yards on a dozen plays. Maxwell completed 8 of 21 passes for 114 yards, but O’Hara held him to two yards on just one completion on 10 attempts in the second half.
O’Hara had very little trouble moving the ball on its first possession of the night, but a holding call helped stall the drive deep in Richmond territory. The Spartans answered with an 80-yard, 10-play drive on their first possession of the season. All 10 plays came on the ground on the legs of Wedgeworth, Timmy Beasley (who ended the night with 29 yards on seven attempts) and Maxwell who capped the march with a three-yard plunge off left tackle with 5:32 remaining in the opening period. David Parker’s kick was good to give RHS a 7-0 lead entering the second quarter.