Lower Richland ends Blue Ridge's season

By John Clayton, Staff Reporter
Published on Saturday, November 3, 2012

Lower Richland never looked like an underdog.

The Diamond Hornets (5-6), the No. 3 seed from Region IV-3A, stunned once-beaten Blue Ridge 26-21 tonight, eliminating the host Tigers in the opening round of the Class 3A state playoffs while notching their first playoff victory since 1995.

“We had opportunities,” said Blue Ridge Head Coach Wade Cooper. “In a playoff game, against a quality opponent, you have to take advantage of those, and we didn’t.”

Lower Richland scored to retake the lead at 12-7 with 13 seconds left in the first half and made that lead stand up the rest of the way thanks to several second-half defensive stands.

The “opportunities” Cooper spoke of included three third-quarter possessions that started inside Lower Richland territory and three trips inside the Diamond Hornets 10-yard-line. But those possessions resulted in only 7 points as Lower Richland expanded its lead thanks to a blocked field goal and a fumble at the 1-yard-line.

Lower Richland quarterback Marcus Edmond, a N.C. State commit, threw for three touchdowns, including two to sophomore Devanta Hampton of 41 and 38 yards.

And for the second-straight week, Blue Ridge quarterback Ty Montgomery was under pressure for most of the night, this time from Lower Richland’s front four led by senior Alonzo Gibson. Gibson finished with four sacks and two tackles for loss. He also caused and recovered a fumble.

“It really changed our gameplan,” Montgomery said of the pressure. “We had to change our protection and keep people in to block. We couldn’t run deep routes because we didn’t have the time.”

Cooper said the Diamond Hornets’ pass rush was more intense than it had appeared on film and credited Gibson with changing the tenor of the game.

So did senior wideout Stephen Turner.

“You have to give them credit, they controlled the line of scrimmage and when you do that, you usually win football games,” said Turner. “(Gibson) was like (South Carolina defensive end Jedeveon ) Clowney or something.”

Lower Richland extended its lead to 20-7 on Edmond’s 38-yard strike to Hampton that came after a scrambling Edmond avoided one sack, reversed field and hit the open receiver with 8:07 left in the third quarter.

The Blue Ridge offense finally broke through with a six-play, 41-yard drive that ended with Montgomery’s 7-yard touchdown run that cut Lower Richdland’s lead to 20-14. Montgomery finished with 54 yards rushing on 16 carries and completed 23 of 37 pass attempts for 231 yards and a touchdown.

The Tigers (9-2) recovered an onside kick, but were forced to punt after a sack and another negative play. The Diamond Hornets answered with an 8-play, 79-yard drive that began with a 26-yard scamper by Edmond and ended with a 1-yard plunge by junior running back Heath Gilmore that extended the lead to 26-14.

Edmond finished with 107 yards rushing on 18 carries and was 8 of 16 passing for 152 yards with an interception and three touchdowns.

After fumbling at the Lower Richland 1 when they appeared to be headed for a sure touchdown with about five minutes to play, the Tigers forced a punt and  and drove 72 yards to cut the lead to 26-21 on Montgomery’s 8-yard pass to Brennen Griffin, who had 6 catches for 68 yards, with 2:12 to play.

Hunter Odom, who intercepted an Edmond pass and returned it 20 yards for the Tigers’ only first-half score, recovered a second Blue Ridge onside kick at the Lower Richland 43, but the Diamond Hornets held one final time.

That final stand ended the Tigers’ season.

“We worked so hard for this every day,” said an emotional Mikal Robinson, a senior running back who gained 35 yards on 16 carries in his final high school game. “I hate that it had to end like this, but it was a great season, a tough year, and I love every single one of them (my teammates).”













Lower Richland: Dervanta Hampton 41 pass from Marcus Edmond (kick failed), 6-0, 6:55.
Blue Ridge: Hunter Odom 20 interception return (John Michael Bright kick), 7-6, 7:52.
Lower Richland: C.J. Davis 22 pass from Edmond (pass failed), 12-7, :13.
Lower Richland: Hampton 38 pass from Edmond (Edmond run), 20-7, 8:07.
Blue Ridge: Ty Montgomery 7 run (Bright kick), 20-14, 11:32.
Lower Richland: Heath Gilmore 1 run (pass failed), 26-14, 7:10.
Blue Ridge: Brennen Griffin 10 pass from Montgomery (Bright kick), 26-21, 2:12.


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