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Richmond Hill grads excel in college football openers
Britton Williams
Britton Williams

Former Richmond Hill kicker Britton Williams wasted no time in making a good impression.

Williams, a true freshman invited walk-on, made his college debut last Saturday in Georgia Southern’s 30-25 win over Gardner-Webb and all he did was kick three field goals in as many attempts and made good on all three of his extra-point kicks.

For his efforts the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Williams was the Sun Belt Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week.

It was not the only strong opening season performance by a former Wildcat kicker as senior Joseph Petrino also had three field goals and three PATs to help lead Maryland to a 30-24 win over West Virginia.

Williams drilled his first kick from 49 yards out and added field goals from 25 and 23 yards. Two of his seven kickoffs were touchbacks. 

Adding to his day Williams was also credited with a tackle on a kickoff.

“His 12 points were the difference in the ball game,” Coach Chad Lunsford said. “His kickoffs were good, too, in placement.”

“He showed the moment was not too big for him,” Lunsford said. “We talked about what we wanted to do if we won the coin toss as to whether to receive the ball or not."

“The thing was we weren’t sure if we wanted a freshman in his first game kicking off or wait for his nerves to settle down. He told us he wanted to kickoff. He was ready.”

The Eagles did win the toss and Williams, a true freshman invited walk on, kicked off and placed the ball at two-yard line in the left corner of the field where the Gardner Webb returner was immediately hemmed in and came up short of the 20-yard line.

When Georgia Southern’s opening drive stalled Williams, who has kicked 60-yarders in practice, calmly drilled a 49-yard kick through the uprights. 

He later added field goals of 29 and 26 yards to complete his day’s work.

“I was talking to him at practice yesterday (Sunday) about his first field goal attempt as a freshman,” Lunsford said at his Monday press conference. “He told me he didn’t know how long it was. He just went out and kicked it.”

The 49-yarder is the longest first made field goal in program history.

Williams was apparently channeling Petrino who proved to be a key factor in the Terps’ win over West Virginia.

The one thing coaches invariably mention about Petrino is his unflappable demeanor. 

Last year, Terps Coach Mike Locksley noted that when Petrino comes off the field you can’t detect by his emotion or body language whether he had just made the kick or missed it.

It’s a perfect mindset for a kicker, Locksley said, noting too many kickers are still dwelling on a miss when they are lining up for their next attempt.

Petrino and Williams were soccer teammates at Richmond Hill for two years before Williams gave up soccer after his sophomore year—Petrino’s senior year—to focus on football.

Petrino excelled at soccer and led Coach Robbie Flanders’ team in scoring his senior season.

A communications major, Petrino had successful kicks of 45, 21 and 26 yards—he had one miss—and now has 152 career points kicking. 

He is currently 15th on Maryland’s all-time scoring list and 10th for points as a kicker.

The Maryland-WVU game was a reunion for Petrino and Wildcats teammate Sam James who is a starting wide receiver for the Mountaineers.

James had a team high five catches for 65 yards for the Mountaineers. 

The redshirt junior is the Mountaineers’ most experienced receiver with 16 starts under his belt. 

For his career, James now has 102 catches for 979 yards and four touchdowns.

His younger brother, Jordan Clark, also saw action for Savannah State in the Tigers’ 53-7 loss at DII powerhouse Valdosta State.

Clark played wide receiver and cornerback for the Wildcats and was an outstanding at pass coverage. 

A true freshman, Clark had two tackles at Valdosta as a backup cornerback.

Justin Jeffery, who also played with Petrino and James, did not have any catches but the redshirt junior wide receiver nevertheless had an enjoyable day as his UNC-Charlotte 49ers pulled off one of the upsets of the day with a 31-28 win over Duke.

It was Charlotte’s first ever win over a team from a Power Five conference. 

The 49ers will host Gardner-Webb this Saturday.

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