RICHLANDS, Va. —
Richlands needed to stay on the bull for eight seconds to claim their fifth win of the season after taking their first lead of the night. Trailing the entire game, the Blue Tornado mounted a game-winning drive in the final 36 seconds to pull out a come-from-behind win over visiting Abingdon, 21-17.
“It was just one of those nights we dropped interceptions, couldn’t pick up a fumble and it seemed like we couldn’t stay out of our own way,” Richlands head coach Greg Mance said. “We had five or six turnovers and made a lot of mistakes, but, the kids never quit and they kept battling and they found a way to win.”
The Blue Tornado defense stiffened against the Falcons who got the ball with 1:32 left after Richlands missed a 49-yard field goal attempt. Abingdon, holding on to a 17-14 lead, moved the chains from its own 20-yard line to its 28 before punting back to the Tornado.
Senior Ben Brown signaled fair catch at his own 45 with 46 seconds left. Quarterback River Michaels brought the Blues to the line of scrimmage with time a factor and no timeouts. Michaels dropped back to pass and found Chace Collins open in coverage inside Falcon territory. Collins hauled in the bullet and raced 33 yards to the Abingdon 22.
Michaels spiked the ball to stop the clock with 20 seconds to go, then threaded the needed to Brown for a 13-yard gain to the Abingdon 14 before being knocked out of bounds with 14 seconds showing on the clock.
Richlands had two plays to go for the win or the tie. The first play was a fade pass in the right corner of the end zone. Michaels rolled right and lofted a jump ball to Brown who went up against the Abingdon coverage and pulled down the catch just inside the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. Brown added the point after to give the Blues their first lead of the night and the defense did the rest.
The Falcons had taken the early lead in the first quarter on a 35-yard Skyler Simcox field goal. The scoring drive started at the Abingdon 19-yard line and took just over four minutes.
Falcon quarterback, Tyler Arnold guided his team to a 10-0 lead after a 60-yard drive capped with him calling his own number for a 1-yard plunge and Simcox added the extra point.
Richlands got on the scoreboard with 4:20 left in the opening half after a Falcon fumble was recovered by the Blues at the Abingdon 21-yard line. The Tornado used the short field to erase the goose egg with Griffin McCauley scoring on a 21-yard run through broken coverage. Abingdon held onto the 10-7 lead through the break.
The Falcons put the Tornado on the ropes after a scoreless third quarter going ahead, 17-7 on a 4-yard run by Arnold with 8:10 left in the game. Richlands went to work on their next possession.
A 5-yard penalty set the Blues back at their own 10 line and Michaels went to his money maker with a 57-yard pass to Brown. Two straight incomplete passes brought up third-and-10. Abingdon had a chance to put the game away on the next play with an interception near the 20-yard line, however, Brown stripped the ball and Richlands recovered.
Michaels wasted little time going after the prize and found Zeke Vance for a 30-yard completion. The Tornado scored two plays later when Michaels rumbled in from the 1-yard line.
From there, the Blues defense shut down the Falcons to set up the game winning drive in the final seconds.
“I’m very proud of our football team,” Abingdon head coach John Bowles said. “I think we out played them, we out hit them, but they found a way to win in the end.”
Staten rushed for 87 yards on 17 carries and Brown hauled in five passes for 128 yards and a touchdown to lead the Blues.
Abingdon was led by Arnold who completed 14-of-21 passing attempts for 113 yards and rushed for two touchdowns.
The Tornado travels to Lebanon for a Southwest District game with the Pioneers and the Falcons travel to Bulldogs Stadium next Friday night.
At Ernie Hicks Stadium/Emats Field
Abingdon.............................3 7 0 7 — 17
Richlands............................0 7 0 14 — 21
A – Simcox 35-yard FG
A – Arnold 1-yard run (Simcox kick)
R – McCauley 21-yard run (Brown kick)
A – Arnold 4-yard run (Simcox kick)
R – Michaels 1-yard run (Brown kick)
R – Brown 9-yard reception from Michaels (Brown kick)