By MIKE DAVIS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
RICHLANDS, Va. —
The Blue Tornado met their Southwest District counter storm Friday night in their first district game of the season against Marion. Richlands put up the first half numbers they needed to weather the second half to get the win, 24-14.
Colten Staten was the leading rusher on the night pacing the Blue Tornado attack with 103 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns.
Gray Baker was on target with 17 completions on 37 attempts for 294 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown. A.J. Johnson caught eight passes for 142 yards and Todd MCGlothlin caught eight passes for 71 yards for Richlands.
“We had some missed opportunities and a couple of missed opportunities (in the first half),” Richlands head coach Greg Mance said. “But, I thought we played tremendous on defense. I thought we didn’t capitalize when we should have.”
“Marion came out in the second half and took it to us and we didn’t execute and it wasn’t a typical Richlands second half. But, it was homecoming game and I’d like to thank Mr. (Glade) Brown for letting our kids come over (to the Richlands Middle School) and it was great for our kids.”
The Tornado drove the ball from their own 37-yard line to the Marion 16 on their first possession before missed opportunities turned Richlands away after missing a 31-yard field goal attempt.
The second time the Blues got the ball they drove the ball 44 yards in eight plays with two key passes from Baker to McGloth-lin for a 5-yard gain on a screen inside the Marion 20-yard line.
Baker hit Johnson for another 5-yard pass to the Hurricanes 6-yard line before Staten took the rest of the way on the next play. Ben Brown kicked his first of three extra points on the night to put the Blues ahead, 7-0.
Richlands scored again in the second quarter when Brown nailed a 22-yard field goal after a Tornado drive stalled at the Marion 5-yard line.
The Blues took a 17-0 lead with 7:47 to go in the opening half when Staten ran in another 6-yard touchdown capping a 66-yard Richlands drive. Baker set up the drive from the very first play with a 40-yard completion to Johnson down the right side.
Baker found Gabe Hunsaker for a 20-yard catch three plays later to put the line of scrimmage within Staten’s scoring run.
Marion struck pay dirt with just under five minutes to go in the half when a deflected Tornado pass fell into Kyle Rivero’s hands and he returned the gift 29 yards to put the ’Canes on the scoreboard.
Richlands put their final points of the night on the scoreboard a minute later when Baker fired an 18-yard touchdown to Hunsaker to push the Tornado lead to 24-7 at the break.
The third quarter was scoreless and the fourth was nearly scoreless, however, the Scarlet Hurricane put up a final touchdown with less than a minute to go in the game when Colin Gullion found Ethan Richardson for a 41-yard score against the Tornado bench.
Isaac Glass kicked his second point after to make the final score.
Richlands held Southwest District leading scorer Richardson to 22 yards on 14 carries.
The Tornado finished the game with 390 total yards and the Hurricane wrapped with 132 in total yards.
“We basically played the whole second half on their side of the field and that’s a tribute to Richlands,” Marion head coach Joey Carroll. “They had a plan for Ethan Richardson and they held him down.”
The Tornado will play host to Carroll County Friday night while the Hurricane will have the Tazewell Bulldogs at home.
At Ernie Hicks Stadium/Emats Field
Marion.......................................0 7 0 7 – 14
Richlands..................................7 17 0 0 – 24
R – Staten 6 run (Brown kick)
R – Brown 22 field goal
R – Staten 6 run (Brown kick)
M – Rivero 29 interception return (Glass kick)
R – Hunsaker 18 pass from Baker (Brown kick)
M – Richardson 41 pass from Gullion (Glass kick)