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Special teams prove to be difference as Wildcats fall 21-14 to Camden County

Richmond Hill jumps from the frying pan into the fire this week when it attempts to rebound from last Friday night’s 21-14 loss to Camden County at Wildcats Stadium.

The game was the Region 1-7A opener for the Wildcats and it didn’t go well as they had two glaring special teams miscues that proved costly: a blocked punt to set up a late first half touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve had way too many critical errors the last few games,” Coach Matt LeZotte said. “We’ve played some solid ball but the critical errors add up…the big plays (given up) on defense, the missed shots on offense, the turnovers.

“The reality of the situation we’re in is we’ve got a tremendous ball team but we’re not there yet,” LeZotte said. “The mistakes we’re making…we’ve got to be more disciplined.”

The road gets rougher this week as the Wildcats (3-4, 0-1) go on the road to play Valdosta (7-0, 1-0) which is ranked No. 4 in the state. Valdosta beat Lowndes County, 13-6, in the region opener for those two teams.

For Richmond Hill and Camden County the game was essentially a play-in game for the state playoffs. They are considered the bottom feeders in a five-team region where the other three teams are all ranked in the top 10. Colquitt County (7-0) is No. 2 while Lowndes (3-3) is No. 9.

LeZotte is not ready to concede his team will have its string of six straight playoff appearances snapped but he knows it’s going to take a better effort.

“They’re all beatable,” he said. “We just can’t make mistakes. We were sound (tonight). We were sound the whole game and then we make the critical mistakes. We’ve got to do a better job as coaches.”

Richmond Hill took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter when Ty Goldrick, who threw for 182 yards and two touchdowns, and Ravon Grant teamed up on a 3-yard scoring pass.

It looked like the lead was going to hold up going into halftime when Myleek Gould came up with an interception with 2:01 on the clock. Richmond Hill, however, was forced to punt and Camden blocked it, getting the ball at its own 45-yard line.

Two plays later with 37 seconds on the clock quarterback Mason Robinson hit Cameron Chandler with a 46-yard bomb to forge a halftime tie.

Camden went up 14-7 in the third quarter and then all but sealed it when Ja’Marley Riddle returned a punt 74 yards for a 21-7 lead. The Wildcats closed to 21-14 in the fourth when Mason Wilcox scored on a 6-yard pass from Goldrick with 3:48 to play but Camden was able to run out the clock.

Richmond Hill was limited to 56 yards rushing, 111 under its average, but Goldrick turned in a strong performance under heavy pressure. He completed 15 of 29 passes and was a bright spot for the Wildcats.

“I thought he threw the ball well,” LeZotte said. “I told him there were going to be some small windows but that he had to complete balls. I thought he did a good job.”

Goldrick has now thrown for 1,076 yards and 11 touchdowns while completing 87 of 156 passes

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