NO. 2 LANCERS ROMP PAST NO. 5 SKYHAWKS 55-7
Fake punt gives Midlothian needed momentum surge
Quarterback Brendon Clark of Manchester (7-0), ranked second in The T-D Top 10, cuts through the defense of fifth-ranked L.C. Bird (6-1) during the Lancers’ 55-7 victory at Manchester. Clark threw for 196 yards and three touchdowns as the Lancers rolled up 490 yards of offense while holding Skyhawks running back Tre Mason, who entered the game averaging 211.2 rushing yards, to 72 yards (Details, Page D6).
They couldn’t catch a break.
Third-down conversions? Weren’t happening.
Field position? Miserable.
So how did the Midlothian Trojans rally from a two-touchdown deficit Friday to defeat Clover Hill 15-12 on the road?
“Resolve,” Midlothian coach Matt Hutchings said. “It’s funny. The pregame speech was about resolve: what we’ve built and what we’ve done. I couldn’t imagine it any better.”
The Cavaliers (4-4) built a 12-0 lead on two touchdown runs by Kendall Cross, one from 31 yards on the first play of the second quarter and the other from 4 yards to end a fourplay, 44-yard drive at 7:27 of the third.
While the home team was cruising, the Trojans (4-3) were struggling mightily.
In the first half, Clover Hill limited them to 87 yards passing, minus19 rushing, and two first downs.
Their first three drives of the second half began on their 10 (after Tyler Moore’s fumble recovery), their 5 (after a deftly placed kickoff by Cross), and their 4 (after an unreturnable 39-yard punt by Cross).
When all seemed lost, though, on this cool, clear night, the visiting Trojans (4-3) finally made their own break.
With Midlothian aligned in punt formation on fourth-and-18 on their
49, Will Pomeroy took the short snap and connected with Brayden Staib for a 21-yard gain.
After back-to-back penalties moved the ball to the 12, wideout Neil Richburg took a Christian Chambers pass to the 1, and at 1:16 of the third period, Tyler Pace followed his blocking off the right side into the end zone.
Aaron Vardell’s PAT cut Clover Hill’s lead to 12-7.
“Coach told us before the game, at halftime, and during timeouts, it’s all about resolve, resolve, resolve,” said Richburg, a 6-0, 160-pound senior. “It was keep believing, keep believing, keep pushing.”
As the Trojans gained momentum, their defense intensified its already staunch effort against Clover Hill’s formidable running game, which amassed 293 yards on 54 snaps.
Their second scoring drive began at their 27 after they stopped the home team three-and-out.
On the first play, Chambers sprinted 30 yards to the Cavaliers’ 43. Seven plays later, he hit Richburg with a 22-yard TD pass 2:31 from the end, then connected with Pace for the 2-point conversion.
“We were running a Zpost,” Richburg said of his touchdown reception. “I told my quarterback Christian to just put it on me and I’d score. The defender pressed up on me. Once I got by him, I just gave him a step and cut inside.”
Chambers, a 5-10, 170pound junior, completed 15 of 33 passes for 182 yards despite relentless pressure from the Cavaliers’ defense.
“You have to have mental toughness,” he said. “They were sending the house on us, and I had to make better reads. That’s hopefully what I did in the second half.
“There really wasn’t any doubt. We know we’re talented. We knew we had to execute.”
Clover Hill ran 68 plays for 365 yards. Midlothian ran 56 for 215, including only 12 on the ground.
On the short end of the stat sheet and behind on the scoreboard much of the night, the Trojans persevered.
“It’s just love for the game,” said Staib, a senior linebacker in the Trojans’ defense that forced four turnovers. “You’re out there with your brothers, playing football. You’re tired. You’re beat down, especially when any play can change the course of the game.
“This [winning] is amazing. That’s the resilience of our team. We don’t give up.”
Midlothian’s Neil Richburg intercepts a pass intended for Clover Hill’s Jaden Johnson in in the first half. On offense, Richburg finished with seven catches for 98 yards.