Richmond Hill and Bryan County both lost their regular season finales Friday night, but the Wildcats qualified for the state playoffs despite dropping three straight region games.
The Redskins’ season ends after a 40-17 loss at home to Vidalia. The Wildcats lost 24-7 at Effingham and are now 6-3 overall, 1-3 in Region 2-AAAAAA.
Richmond Hill is the No. 3 seed in the region and will play at 7:30 p.m. next Friday night at Lovejoy, the No. 2 seed from its region. Lovejoy is in Clayton County, south of Atlanta. Also nicknamed the Wildcats, they finished 6-4 overall and 6-1 in their region, including a 5-0 record at home.
“We’ll have to do some research on them over the weekend and put together a game plan,” Coach Matt LeZotte said. “We’ll be ready to roll Monday.”
Richmond Hill took the lead in the first quarter at Effingham on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Bedgood to Sam James. The Rebels would score 10 points in the second quarter and added a touchdown each in the third and fourth quarters.
A fumble at the goal line would have given the Wildcats a second touchdown, and it was one of five turnovers for them on the night.
“We had some big plays called back on penalties and they took advantage of our turnovers,” LeZotte said. “Our defense played great but they were playing on a short field all night.”
James finished the night with four catches for 70 yards, while Maurice Smith led the Wildcats’ rushing attack with 45 yards on 13 carries. D.J. Lewis and Kywann Green each had 11 tackles for Richmond Hill.
Vidalia 40, Bryan County 17
The Redskins had an outside shot at the No. 4 seed in Region 2-AA, but that would have required beating Vidalia and a Swainsboro loss to Toombs County. The point was made moot by Swainsboro’s win, but for the first quarter Bryan County stuck with Vidalia, taking a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.
“We came out inspired and played with a real sense of urgency early,” Redskins Coach Allen Cartwright said. “But they wore us down and the turnovers really hurt us.”
The Indians took advantage of two interceptions and a fumble recovery, scoring off of all three.
After Vidalia marched down the field on its first possession and scored less than four minutes into the game, Bryan County answered as Gage Hagan connected on three passes for 67 yards and finished the drive with a 15-yard strike to Yadevern Eason. A Christian Thomas PAT tied the game at 7-7 with 4:40 left in the first quarter.
The Redskins recovered a Vidalia fumble less than a minute later and a 27-yard field goal by Thomas just 40 seconds into the second quarter gave Bryan County a 10-7 lead.
Vidalia scored two more times before the half to go up 20-10.
Willie Miller capped the scoring with a 15-yard run for Bryan County with 38 seconds left in the game.
The Redskins finish at 3-6 overall, 2-5 in Region 2-AA.
“We’ve definitely improved on offense over the course of the season, but our line is still pretty young,” Cartwright said. “We just have to get bigger and stronger for next year.”