Nick Pierce, Correspondent
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (franchisesportsonline.net) – Two weeks ago, Rickards turned the ball over four times in a 27-18 loss to Madison County. Friday night was a different story altogether. The Raiders didn’t turn the ball over at all and put up 37 points in the second half alone. The result was a 41-0 thrashing of the Choctawhatchee Indians.
“We focused on not giving the ball up,” said Rickards coach Quintin Lewis. “We needed to limit our turnovers so that we could be efficient offensively.”
The Raiders (1-1) got off to a fast start. After forcing the Indians to a three and out, Rickards drove 77 yards for the first touchdown of the game. On 3rd and ten from their own 23, D.J. Phillips connected with Ferante Cowart for 32 yards, giving the Raiders the ball at Choctawhatchee’s 45 yard line. Two plays later, Jaden Merritt ran the ball 31 yards, putting Rickards in the Red Zone for the first time. The Raiders gave the next three carries to Destin Coates, who finally punched his way into the end zone on a three-yard plunge.
On their next possession, after driving to the Raider 27, Choctawhatchee (0-3) failed to convert a 4th and 15. Following a Rickards three and out, the Indians got the ball back on the Raider 36. On the first play of the drive, Indian quarterback Brady Ooten found Markus Maloy on a go route, setting up Choctawhatchee at the four. After three unsuccessful plays, Raider cornerback Javon Wooten broke up an Ooten pass in the end zone on 4th and goal from the two.
“We had two great goal line stops,” said Lewis. “We spent a lot of time on it this week. It just shows the effort they put in to learn the game plan.”
Both offenses stalled out on their next possessions, sending Rickards into the half with a 7-0 lead.
The Raiders offense busted the game open in the second half, with four of their five drives ending in touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns came from Coates, including a 94-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter.
“We knew that gameplan wise, we were going to be running the football tonight,” said Lewis. “Destin Coates busted a long run tonight. He’s one of those guys that needs to get going because the better he gets going, the better we are are offensively.”
Rickards faces East Gadsden next Friday at home.
Choctawhatchee travels to Navarre.
Notable Raider Stats
QB D.J. Phillips – 183 Pass Yards, 1 TD – 59 Rush Yards
RB Jaden Merrit – 62 Rush Yards, 1 TD
RB Destin Coates – 159 Rush Yards, 3 TD