Richwood did enough things right to win its season opener and made enough mistakes to keep it interesting.
Closing out the first half with 26 unanswered points, the Rams overcame a second half lull to defeat visiting Shreveport Woodlawn 26-14 Friday night in Week 1 of the LHSAA football season.
The game was marred by a third quarter injury to Woodlawn junior wide receiver Tyrique Taylor, who was airlifted and taken to a hospital with an apparent broken leg.
In their first game under head coach Marcus Yanez, the Rams got off to a hideous start.
Flagged for a blindside block on the opening kickoff, Richwood started from its own 9 and went backwards from there. On third-and-14, Terrell Wilson came up with a fumble recovery in the end zone to put the Knights in front, 6-0, just over two minutes in.
“To say we got off to a bad start is an understatement,” Yanez said, “but I was proud of the way the kids responded.”
Richwood’s response was immediate and authoritative.
Instantly atoning for the fumble which led to Wilson’s touchdown, running back Terry Meneather blasted around the left edge, broke into the secondary, picked up a final downfield block from center Chance Gilbert at the 18 and crossed into the end zone for a game-tying 69-yard touchdown scamper.
Flagged 15 yards for a facemark on the ensuing kickoff return, the Knights started their next series from the minus-18. Carldarrius Bethley stopped a first down running play for a loss of one before combining on a third down sack with Wesley Williams to bring on a punting situation.
Regaining possession on the punt, the Rams covered 47 yards on seven plays behind the interior of Kingston Davis, Karidiraus Young, Gilbert, Timothy White and Eric McGinnis. Quarterback Michael Sherman followed Gilbert to paydirt on fourth-and-goal from the four to give the Rams their first lead, 12-6, midway through the first quarter.
Richwood padded its halftime margin to 26-6 by scoring twice in the final 52 seconds of the second quarter.
Capping a four-play, 35-yard drive, Sherman found Devin Hampton open across the middle on a 24-yard touchdown pass to give the Rams a 20-6 advantage with 52 ticks on the clock.
After the kickoff, Carlos Crow’s 23-yard pass to Camron Jacksongave the Knights a first down at midfield with time for one final play.
It was a play the Knights left the field wishing they could have back.
Stepping in front of a pass at the 14, Calvin “CJ” Henderson went 86 yards the other way to put the Rams up 26-6 as the horn sounded signifying the end of the half.
Fast forwarding to the waning seconds of the third quarter, Henderson and Taylor made contact while attempting to snag a third down pass. As Henderson came down with the second of his three picks, Taylor apparently landed awkwardly.
Following the play stoppage to await the arrival of the helicopter, the Rams moved the chains on an 11-yard pass to Devin Hampton. Three plays later, Marques Hampton’s third down sack sent the Rams into punt formation.
Cashing in on a blocked punt, the Knights closed within 26-12 on Crow’s 30-yard pass to Tyrone Montgomery. Jackson caught the conversion pass to bring the visitors within 26-14.
The final 10:23 turned into an exchange of punts and turnovers.
“After the young man got hurt, I told our guys we would have to match their energy,” Yanez said. “I knew Woodlawn was going to come out and play for their brother after seeing him carried off in a helicopter. I knew their emotions were going to be high.
“We played like the game was already won. Woodlawn came out wanting to win the game for their teammate. We put ourselves in bad situations whether it was from a lack of execution or a lack of focus.”
Richwood managed only four first downs over the final 24 minutes.
“The one thing I preach to our guys is that we play Richwood football,” Yanez said. “All that matters is us. When I say that, I mean we have to focus on getting ourselves better and executing our plays without worrying so much about what the other team is doing.”
Interceptions by Henderson and Ke’Andre Johnson helped seal the victory for the Rams, who are suffered through a 2-8 campaign in 2018.
As nice as it is to be 1-0, there is room for substantial improvement.
“We are nowhere close to where we need to be,” Yanez said.
Yanez’s most pressing concern at this point is the depth chart, and it has nothing to do with the starters. Meneweather (19 carries, 163 yards, one touchdown) and Sherman (16-98-1) shouldered the Rams’ entire rushing burden.
“We have to get some guys to step up and develop some depth,” Yanez said. “I feel real confident with the skill guys we have starting. We just have to get some younger guys to step up and get on the field.
“Kids nowadays just want to start, and that’s all that matters to them. They don’t understand the importance of having depth.”
Richwood closes out a two-game homestead against Ouachita on Friday night.
Notes: Richwood’s Principal, Dr. Sharilynn Loche, celebrated her birthday by watching the Rams’ victory. … The game, which was running at a slow pace prior to Taylor’s injury, took three hours, 32 minutes to complete.
By the Numbers
WHS ………………..……….. RHS
14 ….…. First downs ……….. 13
30-126… Rushes-yards …… 36-246
156 .…… Yards passing ……. 38
28-8-4 … Passes (A-C-I) .…. 17-6-0
5-30 …… Punts-yards …….. 4-32.7
1-0 …….. Fumbles-lost ……. 4-2
17-145 … Penalties-yards … 7-60
Woodlawn … 6 ..0 0 8 — 14
Richwood …12 14 0 0 —26
W — Terrell Wilson fumble recovery in end zone (kick blocked), 9:47
R — Terry Meneweather 69-run (run failed), 9:37
R — Michael Sherman 4-run (pass failed), 5:45
R — Devin Hampton 24-pass from Sherman (Sherman run), 0:52
R — Calvin Henderson Jr. 86-interception return (run failed), 0:00
W — Tyrone Montgomery 30-pass from Carlos Crow (Camron Jackson pass from Crow), 10:23
RUSHING — Woodlawn: Brian Stewart 11-70, Jeffery Ledet 12-52. Richwood: Meneweather 19-163-1, Sherman 16-98-1.
PASSING (A-C-I-Yds-TD) — Woodlawn: Crow 18-5-3-133-1, Stewart 9-3-1-23-0. Richwood: Sherman 17-6-0-38-1.
RECEIVING — Woodlawn: Camron Jackson 2-62, Kavori Willis 2-28, Stewart 2-26, Montgomery 1-30-1, Tyrique Taylor 1-10. Richwood: Hampton 2-35-1.