By Jeff Whitten
Richmond Hill overcame a turnover prone first half to beat Jenkins 42-28 on Friday in a nonregion match up.
The win improved the Wildcats to 3-0, apparently the team's best start since 1996.
That year, Richmond Hill finished 9-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
But it didn't come easy for the Wildcats, who fumbled eight times and lost four of them.
"We were fortunate to be able to pull it out ," Wildcats coach Lyman Guy said. "Jenkins had such a good offensive and defensive scheme against us ... they did a good job of creating a lot of problems for us."
Alex Cruz rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns and also had a 55-yard kick return for the Wildcats, who were tied 14-14 at the end of the first half.
"We just came out more focused in the second half," Cruz said. "We knew we had to pick it up in order to win."
David Katzman ran for 101 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and Aaron Dixon, T.J. Franklin and Dominique Allen each added a touchdown for the Wildcats.
Allen said the team went into the locker room knowing it had to focus in the second half, and he told his teammates they had the game within their grasp if they played well.
"We saw that when we had the ball, we could move it," he said. "We just had to take care of the ball."
When they did, the Wildcats were hard to stop. Richmond Hill piled up 436 yads -- all but 11 of it on the ground.
And after a couple of drives were stopped by fumbles, Richmond Hill scored first on a 36-yard run from Franklin and Cannon Rooker's extra point put the Wildcats up 7-0. But Jenkins quarterback A.J. Gilford and a crew of speedy receivers gave the Wildcats headaches. Gilford passed for 260 yards, connecting with Juaris De La Rosa in the first quarter on an 83-yard touchdown pass. The Warriors missed the extra point, and Richmond Hill upped its lead to 14-7 on a 3-yard run from Allen midway through the second quarter.
Jenkins countered with 1:17 left in the first half when Kenny Johnson scooped up a Richmond Hill fumble and ran it 32 yards for a score. Gilford then ran in the two-point conversion to tie the score.
Cruz took the momentum back for the Wildcats in the second half, scoring first on a 55-yard run, then adding an 18-yard touchdown carry early in the fourth quarter to put Richmond Hill up 27-14.
Gilford pulled Jenkins to within 27-21 with a 1-yard touchdown plunge, but Katzman broke a 56-yard run on the Wildcats next possession and Dixon scored on a 6-yard run. Franklin's two-point conversion extended Richmond Hill's lead to 35-14.
Linebacker Connor Beeson picked off a pass near midfield with less than five minutes to play and ran it down to the Warriors 28, then Katzman scored on a 9 yard run and Rooker added his fourth extra point of the night.
Jenkins scored late when Gilford connected with Telly Petty on a 27-yard TD pass.
The 3-0 start was gratifying for the Wildcats, who play host to South Effingham on Friday.
"It feels real good right now," Allen said. "We've put in a whole lot of hard work this summer, from 7 on 7 passing league to working out mornings and afternoons and lifting weights during school. Now we just need to keep preparing ourselves."
RH - TJ Franklin 36 run (Rooker kick)
Jenkins - AJ Gilford 83 pass to Juaris De La Rosa (kick blocked)
RH - Dominique Allen 3 run (Rooker kick)
Jenkins - Kenny Johnson 32 fumble return (Gilford run)
RH - Alex Cruz 55 run (Rooker kick)
RH - Cruz 18 run (kick no good)
Jenkins - Gilrford 1 run (Jack Hibberts kick)
RH - Aaron Dixon 6 run (Franklin run)
RH - David Katzman 9 run (Rooker kick)
Jenkins - Guilford 27 pass to Telly Petty (Hibberts kick)