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Richlands rolls after half

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Carroll County dominated the first half but couldn’t hold on to a 13-7 lead, falling to the Blues.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

HILLSVILLE -- Finding itself caught up in a close game at halftime is nothing new to Richlands this year. Finding a way to deal with it isn’t unfamiliar, either. The Blue Tornado scored on its first two possessions of the second half and came from behind to knock off Carroll County 21-13 in a battle of Southwest District unbeatens at Tommy Thompson Field. The win gives Richlands (8-1 overall, 5-0 district) its sixth straight SWD title, while the Cavaliers (6-3, 4-1) are left waiting for the school’s first district crown in football. Richlands trailed 13-7 at intermission after a dominant first half by the Cavaliers in which they limited the Blues to four first downs and 82 yards of offense. It took only a couple of plays for Richlands to turn the tables, scoring four plays into the second half. Devon Johnson broke up the middle for an apparent 72-yard score on the first play of the third period, and though a block in the back brought the ball back to the Cavalier 43, the carry still eclipsed Richlands’ entire rushing total from the first half.  Johnson zipped around the left side for the tying touchdown two plays later, and Reece Strong’s PAT put the Tornado ahead to stay, 14-13, just a minute and 18 seconds into the half. “They hit us with that little lead play, and it was an adjustment that they made and hurt us with it pretty much the whole second half,” Carroll County coach Tom Hale said. “I don’t know if that was the difference in the game, they’ve got a very, very good football team.” Richlands needed but five plays on its next possession to add some cushion to its lead. Austin Johnson picked up 14 yards to the Carroll 48, Cody Johnson carried to the 36 and, following two incompletions, Cody Johnson scrambled to his left and slipped through Carroll County tacklers three times en route to a 36-yard score and a 21-13 lead with 6:43 remaining in the third. “We had to make some adjustments. Carroll County was doing a great job,” Richlands coach Greg Mance said. “They’re well-coached and they did a tremendous job. We were having trouble with their 3-stacks, so we put two tight ends on them and tried to balance them out, and I think it caught them off-guard. They hadn’t seen that set a little bit.” While Richlands began racking up yardage, Carroll County never got past its own 40-yard line until its final possession of the game, when a Tornado punt rolled dead at the Cavalier 10. Following a loss to the 6, Carroll moved as far as midfield on a 16-yard Tyler Reavis reception and later a defensive holding call, but Bradley Strong’s interception at the Richlands 24 with 18 seconds left sealed the final result. Richlands limited the Cavaliers to 32 yards on the ground and 74 yards total in the second half, but it was Carroll County that dominated the first two periods. The Cavaliers outgained the Blue Tornado 189-82 in the first half, with a 62-yard punt return by Austin Johnson the only thing preventing Richlands from being blanked at the break. Johnson’s touchdown and Reece Strong’s PAT had Richlands leading 7-0 at the 5:29 mark of the first, but the Cavaliers responded with a 74-yard drive kept alive when a Carroll punt glanced off a Richlands player and was recovered by Kyle Wengerd at the Richlands 42. Ulisis Moreno darted in from 46 yards out three plays later, then booted the extra point to square the score at 7-7. “They looked faster than us tonight,” Mance said. “They were flying around and making plays, and we went in at halftime and got the kids settled down, and played well in the third quarter. We told the kids that the third quarter was going to determine the winner of this football game.” Carroll County took the lead on its next series, driving 71 yards in nine plays, with Blake Bowman scoring on a 20-yard run at the 5:03 mark of the second. “I can’t say enough about our kids,” Hale said. “I’m very proud of them, we just came up a touchdown short.” Richlands held a slim advantage in total yards for the game, 279-263, with Devon Johnson carrying 17 times for 123 yards. Carroll County had four ballcarriers with between 42 and 60 yards, led by Moreno with 60 yards on five rushes. Richlands overcame 16 penalties for 161 yards in a game that was bogged down by 23 penalty flags.    Richlands           7  0  14  0––21 Carroll County  7  6    0  0––13

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First quarter Rich–A.Johnson 62 punt return (R.Strong kick) 5:29 CC–Moreno 46 run (Moreno kick) 1:32 Second quarter CC–Bowman 20 run (kick failed) 5:03 Third quarter Rich–D.Johnson 17 run (R.Strong kick) 10:42 Rich–C.Johnson 36 run (R.Strong kick) 6:43

                                Rich  CC First downs             11  12 Rushes-yards     34-212  38-207 Yards passing          67  56 Comp-Att-Int     5-16-1  5-18-3 Return yards          170  83 Punts-average    3-36.0  7-26.9 Fumbles-lost          2-2  1-1 Penalties-yards    16-16  17-70

Individual statistics Rushing–Richlands, D.Johnson 17-123, C.Johnson 12-65, A.Johnson 3-27, Vance 1-2, Team 1-(-5). Carroll County, Moreno 5-60, Bowman 9-47, Caviness 8-42, Surratt 12-42, Reavis 1-10, Huff 3-6. Passing–Richlands, C.Johnson 5-16-1-67. Carroll County, Bowman 5-18-3-56. Receiving–Richlands, B.Strong 3-30, Lowe 1-21, Overton 1-16. Carroll County, Caviness 2-27, Reavis 3-16, Surratt 0-13.