Brian Hughes ran for five touchdowns and accounted for 332 yards of offense to lead Richmond Hill to a 39-14 win over Statesboro Thursday night at Wildcat Stadium.
Hughes recalled scoring five touchdowns in a game only one other time, as a youngster in recreation department football.
“It’s definitely a better experience in high school,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without the 10 other guys on the field.”
Hughes rushed for 195 yards on 17 carries and completed 7 of 16 passes for 137 yards. He ran for touchdowns of 3, 2, 1 and 5 yards before capping his big night with a 69-yard gallop to the end zone in the third quarter.
“He didn’t make a mistake and he just executed the offense,” RHHS head coach Matt LeZotte said. “I told him, ‘I am not going to pump the brakes with you at all. I’m going to push you to the limit, and that’s the type of results that I want from you.’”
Richmond Hill snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 3-3 overall and 2-3 in Region 3-AAAAA. Statesboro fell to 1-5 and 1-3.
“It’s an extremely big win,” Hughes said. “We just have to keep rolling and keep the momentum.”
Along with Hughes’ big night, the RHHS defense scored points the first two times it took the field. A pair of safeties by the defense, with Hughes’ first touchdown run in-between, staked the Wildcats to an 11-0 lead in the first quarter.
That was a big turnaround from the two previous games, when Richmond Hill trailed in the first quarter 35-0 to Glynn Academy and 21-0 to Effingham County.
“We know that we’re not a come-from-behind team. We have to go out and score fast and first,” Hughes said. “Tonight we came out and executed, and things went our way. We capitalized on turnovers and we made some great plays.”
The Wildcats marched down the field on their first possession, but Hughes was stopped inside Statesboro’s 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal. On Statesboro’s first play from scrimmage, Quinton Lavant, Ruii Hernandez and Brandon Armstrong corralled ball carrier Mahlon Williams in the end zone for a safety.
Richmond Hill drove 55 yards in seven plays following the free kick, with Maurice Smith ripping off runs of 20 and 10 yards. Hughes capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown, and Joseph Petrino added the extra point to put the Wildcats up 9-0 with 6:26 remaining in the first quarter.
On Statesboro’s third play of the game, the ball was snapped over quarterback Austin Kleinlein’s head and he fell on it in the end zone for another safety. The Blue Devils regrouped to score on Tyler Gordon’s 9-yard run, closing the gap to 11-7 late in the first quarter.
But it was all Wildcats after that.
Sam James ended Statesboro’s next drive with an interception in the end zone. James also caught four passes for 83 yards on offense, including a 22-yard catch and run off a screen pass from Hughes to set up first-and-goal at the 6 on the Wildcats’ ensuing possession.
Hughes also connected with Andre Walker for 30 yards on the drive, which ended with Hughes’ 2-yard touchdown run. Petrino’s extra point extended the Wildcats’ lead to 18-7 with 59 seconds left in the first half.
“I was very proud of the guys and the execution, fundamentally, on both sides of the ball,” LeZotte said. “We blocked and tackled as well as we’ve done all season long.”
Hughes ran for three more touchdowns in the third quarter as the Wildcats blew the game open at 39-7. Statesboro’s Jalen Davis scored on a 16-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Richmond Hill will play at South Effingham next Friday. The Mustangs (5-0, 3-0) are tied with Ware County atop Region 3-AAAAA heading into their game tonight at Coffee.