By MIKE DAVIS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
RICHLANDS, Va. —
The Blue Tornado came into Friday night’s contest against the Carroll County Cavaliers with a banged up roster.
Despite playing new faces, Richlands (7-1, 2-0) battled to the end for a Southwest District win, 28-7, at Ernie Hicks Stadium/Emats Field.
The Tornado finished the night with 330 yards in total offense led by Colton Staten who rushed for 210 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns.
“We had to battle and we knew that,” Richlands head coach Greg Mance said. “Carroll County always gives us a fit, they’re well coached and they always play us hard.”
“Michael Horton came in (at quarterback) in the second half with Benny (Brown) banged up and did a good job. We had some things open in the first half and Carroll County was teeing off on Colton (Staten) and we brought in Michael and it mixed things up a little bit.”
Carroll County (1-6) got the ball first and began to move the line of scrimmage before Richlands Eric Johnson put the brakes on the Cavalier drive. Johnson picked off a Conner Lundy pass at the Carroll 30-yard line to put the Tornado in prime real estate.
Johnson got the call to do the honors after Staten had a 16-yard burst and a 6-yard burst through the Carroll County defensive front. Johnson bounced in from eight yards out running behind an exploding Richlands offensive line. Ben Brown kicked the point after to push the Blues in front, 7-0.
The Cavaliers took the Tornado kickoff and ran it back to the mid-field stripe before a late hit was determined by the officiating crew moved the ball to the Richlands 42-yard line.
The Cavaliers’ trip to even the game was a short one for Carroll County who went the distance in five snaps culminated with Lundy finding Chris Smoot for a 24-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-4. Ryan Ruiz added the extra point for the sum of the Cavalier scoring.
The Blue Tornado answered with less than five minutes to go in the first quarter on a 3-play drive that went for 55 yards. Staten took the handoff on third-and-three between the tackles for a 50-yard touchdown. Brown’s kick gave Richlands a 14-7 lead.
A scoreless second quarter gave way to a 14-point second half by the Blue Tornado. After deferring the first-half kickoff, Richlands took the opening possession of the third quarter 53 yards for a touchdown including a Brown pass to Todd McGlothlin for a 26-yard hookup to the Cavalier 30-yard line to get within striking range.
Then, later in the drive on fourth-and-7, Brown dropped back and threw a timing pattern to McGlothin to went up for the jump ball and came down with a 16-yard touchdown. Patrick Davis blocked the extra point for Carroll County holding the score to 20-7 in favor of Richlands.
Staten scored the final touchdown of the night with 1:16 left in the third quarter when he took the snap on first down and ran it in from 30-yards out on a one-play drive. The Tornado attempted a two-point conversion, however, the passing attempt was swatted down by the Cavalier special teams.
Richlands scored their final points of the night on a safety when a bad snap on a Carroll County punting attempt scooted out of the end zone.
“Our kids played hard and that’s been typical of this group all season,” Carroll County head coach Tom Hale said. “We have some young kids and we’re just inconsistent.”
The Tornado defense held the Cavaliers to 55 yards on the ground and 60 passing.
“I’m very proud of our defense,” Mance said. “The held a very good Carroll County offense to seven points and I think that was their lowest out put on the season.”
“We had a lot of things go wrong, but, a mark of a good football team is find a way to win and that’s what this group did.”
Horton rushed the ball nine times for 43 yards for the Blues and McGlothlin caught four passes for 77 yards. Brown completed 4-of-11 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown for the Tornado.
Richlands starting quarterback Gray Baker sat out the game after suffering a knee injury earlier in the week.
The Cavaliers travel to Tazewell next week and the Blue Tornado will be on the road to Abingdon.
At Ernie Hicks Stadium/Emats Field
Carroll County...........................7 0 0 0 — 7
Richlands..................................14 0 12 2 — 28
R –Johnson 8-yard run (Brown kick)
C – Smoot pass from Lundy (Ruiz kick)
R – Staten 50-yard run (Brown kick)
R – McGlothlin 16-yard pass from Brown (kick no good)
R – Staten 30-yard run (conversion no good)
R – Safety