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Open date comes at good time for Richmond Hill

Football coaches as a rule despise an open date following a loss. They want to get back on the horse and ride it as soon as possible.

In Richmond Hill’s case not playing this week may not be a bad idea.

The Wildcats suffered about as bad a loss as possible last Friday night when the were blanked by Coffee County, 21-0, at Wildcats Stadium, and a week off to get their heads straight could work to their advantage as they gear up for Region 1-7A play starting at Camden County (5-1) on Oct. 6.

It was not so much the score - the Trojans had rolled over Richmond Hill, 51-17 last year and were a two-touchdown favorite - but how futile the Wildcats were offensively.

When the final horn sounded and the stats were added up they showed Richmond Hill with 63 yards total offense on 31 plays. The Trojans ran 62 plays and piled up 470 yards, 350 on the ground.

“We’ve played some real good ball, we’ve played some so-so ball but tonight we played some really bad ball,” said Coach Matt LeZotte who was at a loss to explain his team’s performance. “Now, we’ve got to make sure we improve and go get it.”

Coffee County used the win to vault to No. 1 in this weeks Class 5A rankings and star running back Fred Brown had 212 yards to push his season total to 827 which is tops among the state’s Class 5A backs.

“To win against a team like Coffee County we’ve just got to play better,” LeZotte said. “We just didn’t show up tonight.

“You worry about which team is going to get off the bus, so to speak, and right there (Coffee County) was a team that got off the bus. We were a team that didn’t show up.”

Coffee County set the tone for the night from the very outset. Playing behind sophomore backup quarterback Trey Ross as starter Maurice Hansley was out with an injury, the Trojans took the game’s opening kickoff and marched 80 yards on 15 plays for a 7-0 lead on Brown’s 3-yard run. 

Richmond Hill got off to a promising start when it got a first down on its first two plays thanks to runs of nine and two yards by Joshua Troupe. It turned out to be a false promise as the Wildcats did not get another first down until its second possession of the third quarter when Nick Bliss ripped off a 36-yard run.

Those, as it turned out, were Richmond Hill’s only first downs of the game in what LeZotte said might have been the worst offensive performance of any of his nine Richmond Hill teams.

Coffee extended its lead to 14-0 when Patrick McCall added a 15-yard scoring run four minutes into the second quarter and Brown scored on a 5-yard run with 2:08 left in the half.

“It was poor execution across the board in the first half,” LeZotte said. “We played a little more toe-to-toe in the second half but we just couldn’t get anything going offensively. If we’re going to be successful, we’ve got to do a better job.”

Richmond Hill was never able to penetrate Coffee County’s side of the field. Twice the Wildcats had the ball at their own 45 but were unable to advance it.

Caleb Easterling returned the second half kickoff 42 yards but that was followed by a running play which lost a yard, a procedure penalty, an incomplete pass and an interception. With 9:58 to play the Wildcats recovered a fumble at the 45. Two running plays lost a yard and then came an incompletion forcing a Walter Pugh punt.

The Richmond Hill defense did provide a highlight with a goal line stand in the third quarter. The Trojans had the ball first-and-goal at the eight but four straight running plays by Brown saw them turn the ball over on downs at the one.

Bliss finished the night with 33 yards on three carries and had two receptions for 10 yards. Troupe had 13 yards on 10 attempts while Scott completed two of 12 passes for 10 yards. Pugh had eight punts for a 39.8 average.

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