A host of late season injuries and a younger than normal starting roster aside, Richmond Hill came out at Hephzibah on Friday like they might have put together a game plan to pull off a win in their last game of the 2007 campaign.
After a quick touchdown against the Rebels brought that hope, the Wildcat faithful had to be in shock as 54 unanswered points dashed them. Richmond Hill ended their season 1-9, 0-5 in 3-AAA (A) while Hephzibah improved to 4-6, 2-3.
After the opening kickoff, sophomore quarterback Matt Williams in his first start of the season led the Wildcats on an impressive 65-yard drive and Darius Postell put the Cats on the board with a 1-yard run. After Zach Alltop's extra point kick, only three minutes had expired in the first quarter and the Rebel sideline had to be reeling as they tried to figure out where the team that they had been studying on film was.
Maybe it was not seeing Xavier Owens behind center, or maybe it was not seeing the Wildcat wishbone - Williams ran the offense from the shotgun with no huddle - but for whatever reason the Rebel defense was clearly confused. Williams mixed the run and pass to make it work.
Senior Zach Christie , and Postell took turns taking hand-offs out of the shotgun with Christie picking up three key first downs including a 19-yard gain to set up Postell's touchdown. In between, first down passes to Tyler Mitchell and Zach Denney kept the Rebels on their heels and with the Wildcats in the hurry up offense left no time for the Rebels to make appropriate substitutions. Hephzibah had an offensive game plan of their own and went to work right away.
The Rebels first drive started near their own 20-yard line and they marched the length of the field primarily on the rushing of tailback Antwan Neighbors and quarterback Connell Reddick, but the drive stalled when the Wildcat defense forced Neighbors to fumble at the 11 yard line and Richmond Hill recovered. Turnovers would be big for both teams as the Wildcats were about to find out.
Again Postell and Christie went to work and picked up consecutive first downs out to the Wildcat 42, then Williams made his first mistake. Rebel corner back Mike Boyd read a quick flanker pass attempt to Zach Denney perfectly, stepped in front of the throw for the interception and returned it to the Wildcats’ 25-yard line. The Rebels would score four plays later, and failed on the two point try.
The score brought the end of the first quarter and Richmond Hill still had a slim 7-6 lead, but the wheels were about to come off the wagon.
Hephzibah scored three times in the second quarter, twice from the air, as Reddick started hitting his receivers and taking advantage of a banged up Wildcat secondary. Whatever defensive adjustments the Rebels were unable to accomplish in the first quarter they had finally accomplished in the second as Richmond Hill was forced to punt on their next three possessions. The second half was more of the same.
The Wildcats missed Owens’ presence on kickoff returns as well. Richmond Hill had poor field position and one fumbled kick off return to give the Rebels some help they didn't really need. The Hephzibah offense was picking up big chunks of yardage in spite of some good defensive plays in spots.
Pierce Carter, Danny Harman, Manny Garcia and Nathan Kilburn were getting their share of tackles but the Wildcats with a young front missed the injured Caleb Brewer in the middle of that line.
The Wildcats will now look back on their season and recognize the positive things they did accomplish at their annual post season banquet on Thursday Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the high school cafeteria. Parties interested in attending can check the booster club web site at http://eteamz.active.com/rhwildcats/ - or contact one of the coaches.