Richards has no trouble subduing Harlan
Who let these ’Dogs out?
That might have been the question visiting Harlan was asking after squaring off with Richards Saturday afternoon at Korhonen Field. The Falcons were unable to fly very high, thanks to a group of Bulldogs who refused to let up on their intensity.
There were a few hiccups along the way, to be sure, but nothing of a detrimental variety, at least as far as Richards was concerned. The home club’s offense scored touchdowns on one-fourth of the 28 plays it ran, both the defense and special teams contributed six-pointers of their own, and the Bulldogs ran away and hid from Harlan.
Richards banked a resounding 58-14 triumph in its season-opener, which had originally been scheduled for Friday night but was postponed by bad weather.
“This is the fourth year playing Harlan,” Bulldogs coach Tony Sheehan said. “It was always a tough game [before]. To see this [final score] and the way we executed was very pleasing.
“Guys were hungry, and a little bit of the difference [for us] between last year and this year is the gas pedal is down. We have a lot of weapons and a lot of guys want to touch the ball, but they are [also] unselfish and blocking for each other. They know things happen at different intervals.”
An 85-yard kick return had the Falcons in the hunt early, but Harlan’s defense was simply no match for Richards’ attack. The Bulldogs racked up 32 points by intermission as junior quarterback Hasan-Muhammad Rogers threw three touchdown passes and scored twice himself.
His initial connection of note was a 5-yard toss to Ryan Willett that got Richards on the board for the first time. The TD came five plays after a blitzing Romel Hill caused a fumble and Nurudeen Kamorudeen recovered it for the Bulldogs.
Willett was Muhammad-Rogers’ preferred target again later in the period, this time on a 35-yard hookup that expanded Richards’ lead to 18-8. In between Willett’s two tallies, Muhammad-Rogers reached the end zone on a 3-yard keeper to cap a drive that was sparked by his 36-yard pass completion to Dedrick Shannon.
Another apparent Richards TD was wiped out by a second-quarter clipping penalty, but the play still resulted in a 29-yard pickup for Spencer Tears on a reverse. Muhammad-Rogers’ 21-yard scamper culminated that possession soon after.
The first half concluded with a 35-yard Muhammad-Rogers-to-Tacari Carpenter aerial collaboration.
Romeo Johnson (24-yard run), Willett (23-yard catch) and Dwayne Jiles (30-yard interception return) were the touchdown suppliers in the third stanza, and those scores officially turned the game into a blowout. A running clock was put into effect after that, but both teams managed to tally once more before time expired.
Harlan’s TD was delivered on Daniel Johnson’s 1-yard run, while the ’Dogs immediately answered with Tears’ 85-yard kickoff return. The Falcons were able to do relatively little damage during the course of the day due to a marauding band of Richards defenders, a group that included Hill (10 tackles), Andrew Venerable (eight), Jiles (six stops in addition to his pickoff), Savon Robinson (six tackles) and Nick DeMarco (five).
The only setback was the loss of linebacker Mike Mackri to a season-ending ACL injury. Sheehan, however, believes he can mix and match players well enough to adequately compensate for Mackri’s absence.
“We were a little bit sloppy at times, but you take a win,” Sheehan said. “I thought the [offensive] line played extremely well. We ran the ball OK, but we need to get better. And giving up the [touchdown] return — we can’t have that.
“The good thing is coaches all say you always make the biggest improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. And we’d better.”
Next up for the Bulldogs is Batavia, which defeated Glenbard North last weekend and has not dropped a regular-season verdict since 2010. Sheehan is properly wary of this other set of Bulldogs, who play a physical brand of ball and trot out a senior-heavy lineup this year.
“They could be the best team we’ve faced in the last five years,” Sheehan said. “We’re going into a hornet’s nest and we’ve got a ballgame on our hands, but I think the kids are excited about it. It’s somebody new and it’s fun.
“You’ve got to play some [good] people, and it’s a very good early test to see what we’re made of. We’ve got to attack and we can’t dig ourselves a hole because we won’t get out of it.”
Harlan 8 0 0 6 - 14
Richards 18 14 20 6 - 58
First downs 8 16
Yds. rushing — 135
Yds. passing — 226
Total yds. — 361
Att.comp. — 14-12
Fumbles/lost 1-1 0-0
Had intercepted 1 0
Penalties/yds. 9-110 8-75
Punts/avg. 3-25.0 0-0
HLR — Ryan Willett, 5-yd. pass from Hasan Muhammad-Rogers (kick failed)
HLR — Muhammad-Rogers, 3-yd. run (pass failed)
HA — Daniel Johnson, 85-yd. kickoff return (Johnson run)
HLR — Willett, 35-yd. pass from Muhammad-Rogers (run failed)
HLR — Muhammad-Rogers, 21-yd. run (Shawn Chiaramonte kick)
HLR — Tacari Carpenter, 35-yd. pass from Muhammad-Rogers (Chiaramonte kick)
HLR — Romeo Johnson, 24-yd. run (kick failed)
HLR — Willett, 23-yd. pass from Muhammad-Rogers (Chiaramonte kick)
HLR — Dwayne Jiles, 30-yd. interception return (Chiaramonte kick)
HA — Johnson, 1-yd. run (run failed)
HLR — Spencer Tears, 85-yd. kickoff return (kick failed)
Richards Rushing: Muhammad-Rogers 7-48, Johnson 4-36, Tears 1-29, Hill 1-17, Carpenter 1-5. Passing: Muhammad-Rogers 14-12-226. Receiving: Carpenter 5-96, Willett 4-73, Shannon 2-46, Marchione 1-11.