“Frustrating” was the only word Hoggard could come up with after the Raiders rallied from a halftime deficit to defeat Lumberton 30-17 Friday night.
“It’s not surprising because they always have a good scheme against us,” Hoggard said. “Their kids played hard, I’m not sure we did at times. We had to battle back from some adversity.”
For the first time this season, Richmond (8-0, 3-0) walked out of the locker room for the second-half kickoff trailing as the Pirates took advantage of blown coverage in the secondary and a fumbled punt to lead 10-6. Lumberton racked up 148 yards of offense in the first half but were stymied in the final 24 minutes as the Pirates were limited to just 63 yards.
Richmond on the other hand exploded in the second half behind the running of Diquon Cox. The junior rushed for a career-high 236 yards on 15 carries. Cox scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 3-yard run in the waning seconds of the third quarter to give the Raiders the lead for good.
“My coach (Brad Denson) told us at halftime, one of us would have to step it up,” Cox said. “I want to thank the offensive line, the Hogs, for helping me get all of those yards.”
Cox has now rushed for a team-leading 758 yards on the season, replacing Dakwa Nichols, who saw his first action after injuring his foot against West Forsyth. Nichols was limited to 20 yards on five touches.
“I think I am more ready and more mature as Coach Hoggard said than last year,” Cox said. “All I really needed was reps with the varsity to get used to the speed.”
Lumberton tried to give its home crowd an big upset for the second straight season. The Pirates upended Jack Britt in overtime last year and tried to do the same against the third-ranked Raiders.
Jez Deese connected with wide-open Walker Fann for a 65-yard touchdown pass with 2:38 left in the first quarter to give the Pirates the lead.
“We tried it on the other side and the corner bit on the move, so we decided to try it to the left side,” Lumberton coach Mike Brill said. “Their guy really bit hard on it.”
Lumberton (4-4, 0-3) extended its advantage to 10 when Richmond’s Elijah Goodwin was unable to cleanly field a punt at the Raider 45. The Pirates threatened to add another touchdown when Ahmad Smith broke away for a 41-yard run to give Lumberton a first-and-goal from the Richmond 9. Three rushes were unable to push the ball into the end zone and the Pirates settled for a 25-yard field goal by Jace Ward.
“I predicted this on Wednesday,” Hoggard said. “I told them what would happen and it did. We are very fortunate to survive. We are still our greatest opponent. I’m not taking anything away from Lumberton because they played hard, but some of our problems was because we didn’t play very well.”
The Raiders remained tied atop the Southeastern Conference with the victory, while the Pirates (4-4, 0-3) saw their postseason hopes take a serious blow. Lumberton needs a victory in one of its final two games to try and earn a wild-card berth in the state playoffs.
“We have too many starters out,” Brill said. “My kids played hard. When we are healthy, we ain’t too bad. These guys have heart beyond their years. Realistically, we have to beat Swett.”
Scotland (7-1, 3-0) retained its share of the conference lead following its 34-19 win at Hoke County (7-2, 1-2). Pinecrest (5-4, 2-1) moved into third place with a 20-7 road victory against Purnell Swett (2-6, 0-3).
The Patriots will visit Raider Stadium next week to face the Raiders, while the Pirates will hit the road to battle the Fighting Scots and the Rams and the Bucks will clash in Raz Autry Stadium.