A week after losing an opportunity to claim a Region 3-AAAAA title, Richmond Hill rebounded to defeat Bradwell Institute, 28-14, and ruin the Tigers senior football players’ last home game.
“We just made some mistakes tonight against a really good football team, and you can’t do that and expect to win,” Tigers head coach Adam Carter said.
Richmond Hill took the opening kickoff and Mississippi State signee Nick Fitzgerald guided the methodical Wildcat offense down the field to go up 7-0. Fitzgerald broke away on a 59-yard run of his own, putting the Wildcats up, 14-0, in the second quarter.
Bradwell knew the type of offense and athleticism they would face in Fitzgerald’s quarterback play and the speed and size of the Wildcats’ backfield. The Tigers also knew that in order to stop the Richmond Hill option game, they had to play assignment football.
“The best way to prepare for the option is to not even use a football during the week of practice, which forces defensive players to concentrate on every back and not only just look for the football,” Carter said.
Down 14-0, Bradwell put together a drive in the final five minutes of the second quarter that resulted in a two-yard surge across the goal line from Hubert Anderson. Robert Miller added the PAT to cut the Wildcats’ lead to, 14-7.
Richmond Hill got a nice return on the kick off. Fitzgerald got the ball back and, mixing running and passing plays, moved the Wildcats down the field quickly. Fitzgerald scored off of a five-yard run, bringing the Wildcats lead to 21-7.
Bradwell did not sit idly by in the final minute of the half, though. Tiger senior quarterback LaBaron Anthony mixed in the pass more often against Richmond Hill, but time ran out on the half as the Tigers reached midfield.
“LB did a good job throwing the ball tonight. He made some good screen throws and short throws, which helped us pick up yards tonight. Michael Burnett had some big catches for us tonight,” Carter said.
Richmond Hill added another touchdown from a Fitzgerald pass, putting them up 28-7. The Tigers created and sustained a drive that lasted the majority of the third quarter.
Though the Tigers didn’t look like they would score on the drive, Anderson’s line-drive punt grazed a Richmond Hill player, and DeAngelo Smith recovered the ball for Bradwell. A few players later, Anderson added his second touchdown of the night from a three-yard run, cutting the Wildcats’ lead to 28-14.
Bradwell made one last drive after Ziere Diggs picked off a Fitzgerald pass in the fourth quarter, but the drive stalled, and the exhausted, penalty-ridden Wildcats ran out the clock for the Region 3-AAAAA win.
Richmond Hill’s offense outgained the Tigers nearly 2-to-1 in total yards. The Wildcats finished with 396 yards of total offense compared to Bradwell’s 215 yards.
However, more startling was the fact that Richmond Hill only had one more first down — 16 to Bradwell’s 15. Bradwell ran nearly 20 more offensive players than the Wildcats.
Anderson was the Tigers’ leading rusher with 86 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Anthony finished 12-of-21 passing attempts for 79 yards.
“Our biggest problem tonight was we missed some big tackles. We had Fitzgerald before he broke the big run. We just have to make sure we finish the rest of the season,” Carter said.
Bradwell prepares this week for region leader Ware County. The Gators lost the state title game last year to Gainesville. Ware is loaded with Division I prospects on both side of the ball and has a perfect 5-0 Region 3-AAAAA record.
The Tigers fall to 3-5 overall, and 2-3 in Region 3-AAAAA. The game is at Memorial Stadium in Waycross with kick off at 7:30 p.m.