RICHMOND HILL, GA -- The Richmond Hill Wildcats (3-5, 3-2 Region 2-6A) continued their winning ways at Wildcat Stadium, staying undefeated at home in their 14-7 win over the Glynn Academy Terrors (3-5-1, 2-3 Region 2-6A).
The Wildcats leaned on their passing attack, stiff defense, and clock management to gain this victory that put them ahead of the Terrors in the GHSA 6A playoff race.
The Wildcats received the ball first and put together one of their best drives of the season.
Going through their gunslinger, Ty Goldrick who went 13-20 for 197 passing yards completed passes to Ravon Grant, Tommy Bliss, and Nick Bliss to get his team down the field.
The drive finished off with the Wildcats striking first on the scoreboard with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Goldrick to T. Bliss.
“It was just executing,” Wildcats Head Coach Matt LeZotte said about his team’s initial drive. “Our coaches felt really confident about our opener this evening. And it showed. It resulted in being able to score. We were able to stay one step ahead of their adjustments.”
The Wildcat defense forced a three and out on the Terrors’ first drive, preventing them from even reaching halfway mark of the field.
But on their following drive, the Terrors knotted the game at 7 after Zech Ellis finished off their drive with a 21-yard rushing touchdown off a direct snap freshly into the second quarter.
The Wildcats wanted the lead back – and got it.
As they say on the 50-yard line, Goldrick threw a dot to Grant for a 46-yard gain, putting the Wildcats inside the five-yard line.
Caleb Easterling checked in at quarterback for the Wildcats to get snaps and rushed the ball for the remainder of the yards on the next two plays to take a 14-7 lead.
As time winded down in the first half, the Wildcats wanted to extend their lead, but the drive was halted when Goldrick looked to a receiver but was intercepted by the Terrors’ 6-foot-5-inch defensive back Tyson Rooks with 45 seconds left.
The Terrors tried to score but were unsuccessfully with time running out for the break.
No scores were made in the second half.
But Hayden McCullough made some big plays.
First, he made a big hit, sacking on Terrors' quarterback Tyler Devlin on third down to force them to punt.
McCullough came in at wide receiver and saved a Wildcats drive to on a pass from Goldrick.
But the Wildcats fumbled the ball on a handoff on the following play, allowing Terrors' linebacker Eriq Cash to recover.
Going into the final 12 minutes of the game, the Terrors made their way to the Wildcats' 34.
On the first play, Ravon Grant made a toe-tap interception a Devlin pass, allowing the Wildcats to take over on their own four.
“Our coaches did a great job with the defensive gameplan,” LeZotte said. “You see how we were able to get line up and tackle. We made a couple of errors and allowed them to get on the board. Overall, I felt really comfortable putting the ball back in their hands with the way our defense was playing.”
The Wildcats utilized a lot of clock in the fourth quarter with power running back Zion Gilliard, who rushed 17 times for 74 yards.
“It’s something we’re very keen and aware of in game situations,” LeZotte said about the late game strategy. “It’s something that we practice, and our guys do a great job of executing it and you can see it paid off.”
The Wildcat defense never let the Terrors gain any traction to make a game-tying score, securing the victory on senior night.
“I’m just proud of our guys finishing,” LeZotte said. “It was a few times that we tried to give it away. But our guys dug in and responded, and I couldn’t be more proud. We challenged them on Tuesday to get better and they got better everyday this week. We weren’t happy where we were at, and they took ownership and changed their circumstances. That was their victory.”
Senior strong safety and wide receiver Tommy Bliss had eight tackles with two catches, 33 receiving yards and a touchdown to finish his final game at Wildcat Stadium.
“I said before it was bittersweet,” Bliss said after the game. “It doesn’t feel real that this is my last game here. This is it. Looking back on it, to end it with a win, you can’t plan it any better than that so I’m very happy but at the same time I’m going to miss it. Coach talked about execution, and it was all about doing our job. Just by defensive alignment I knew the ball was coming to me. In previous games, I might’ve let my nerves get to me and maybe drop the ball or finish the run. But being able to do that in front of our home crowd and my last game here, it’s very special.”
South Effingham now has all the Wildcats attention as they will go there to face them in the regular season finale.
“We got a big week of preparation,” LeZotte said about their next matchup. “We need to get this win and let fate falls where it falls in the last week of the season. We’ll see how it shakes out but right now I’m going to go home to my wife and kids and love them up a little bit.”