Bulldogs bag first win over Lemont in six years
At this rate, Richards may never want to return to Korhonen Field.
Certainly, road games haven’t been detrimental to the Bulldogs’ well-being thus far in 2013. In fact, if Richards goes on to do great things in the Class 6A playoffs during the month of November, players and coaches are likely to point to a couple September achievements as the foundation for that success.
As if handing Batavia its first regular-season setback since 2010 in Week 2 didn’t give the Bulldogs enough of a confidence boost, the locals bookended that memorable triumph with an equally satisfying one Friday night in Lemont. There, Richards toppled the Indians for the first time since 2007 and, by virtue of that 28-14 win, also began a season with a 3-0 record for the first time since then.
“We got a couple monkeys off our back the last two weeks,” Bulldogs coach Tony Sheehan said. “I would assume it’s gotten some people’s attention that we have a good team [because] those are two tough places to play. We feel we’re getting back to where we want to be [as a program].”
Sheehan admitted Richards didn’t perform at its peak in the South Suburban Conference crossover tilt, a viewpoint verified by the Bulldogs’ second-half sloppiness. Over the last 24 minutes, Richards quarterback Hasan Muhammad-Rogers was sacked four times, the junior threw an interception and the ‘Dogs also lost a fumble.
That could have left the door ajar for a Lemont comeback from a 20-14 halftime deficit, but Richards’ defense was equal to the task. The prevention corps wasn’t without flaws of its own, though — in three instances, Bulldogs defenders failed to hang on to would-be interceptions.
The same thing had also happened once in the opening half, and on that occasion Lemont made its guests pay. Richards’ inability to choke off that particular second-period series meant the Indians kept a scoring march alive.
Mike Larkins’ 1-yard run culminated the possession and drew Lemont within a touchdown 22 seconds prior to intermission.
“If we stop them there and we’re up 20-7, we know we’re getting the ball to start the second half,” Sheehan said. “If we go down and score, we’re going to have control of the game. There were a couple plays where we lost focus.
“We bent a little bit [in the second half], but didn’t break. But it was getting a little nervous.”
Muhammad-Rogers finally gave his team some much-needed breathing room by collaborating with Dedrick Shannon on a 34-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter. The touchdown toss was one of three on the evening for Muhammad-Rogers.
He also made connections with Tacari Carpenter (69 yards) and Spencer Tears (30 yards) in the first half. Carpenter’s six-pointer was reminiscent of a long one he garnered the week before against Batavia, as he grabbed a short pass and then “made some guys miss.”
Tears had been an influential figure earlier as well, as his long reception set Romeo Johnson up for a 1-yard plunge that began the contest’s scoring.
“We’ve got big-play guys and we played well at times,” Sheehan said. “But we’ve got to get more consistency.”
Lemont did its part to disrupt Richards’ flow by employing a defensive scheme for which the Bulldogs had not fully prepared themselves. Nevertheless, Richards still managed to outgain the Indians by 80 yards.
Defensively, Romel Hill once again paced the Bulldogs by racking up a team-best 14 tackles. Ramontay Hill added eight, Dwayne Jiles, Lucas White and Nick DeMarco all had six, and Roque Castro chipped in four. Castro also broke up three Lemont passes, while DeMarco intercepted one.
“It was ugly, but overall we’re happy we got the win,” Sheehan said. “You’ve got to see what you’ve got by playing good teams. [But] are we satisfied? No, and that’s the good thing about it.”
The Bulldogs remain away from home this Friday, as they venture to Palos Heights to meet up with Shepard. Richards’ District 218 sister school is enduring a rough start to the 2013 campaign and is still searching for its first victory.
That, however, gives Sheehan more reason to be wary of the Astros, who traditionally give the Bulldogs a spirited tussle.
“A lot of these kids know each other from the neighborhood, so there’s a lot of pride and trash-talking,” he said. “There’s no doubt coaches worry about games like these, and we’ve got to hammer it home that it’s about us getting better and taking care of our business.
“It’s a conference game, and everybody else [in the SSC Red] has already played one. So we’re still looking up at some people.”
Richards 6 14 0 8 - 28
Lemont 0 14 0 0 - 14
First downs 10 15
Yds. rushing 60 104
Yds. passing 247 123
Total yds. 307 227
Att./comp. 21-11 29-13
Fumbles/lost 1-1 0-0
Had intercepted 1 1
Penalties/yds. 15-120 7-85
Punts/avg. 7-35.0 6-28.0
HLR — Romeo Johnson, 1-yd. run (kick failed)
LE — Julio Aleman, 1-yd. run (Marcin Orszulak kick)
HLR — Tacari Carpenter, 69-yd. pass from Hasan Muhammad-Rogers (Spencer Tears, pass from Muhammad-Rogers)
LE — Mike Larkins, 1-yd. run (Orszulak kick)
HLR — Tears, 30-yd. pass from Muhammad-Rogers (kick failed)
HLR — Dedrick Shannon, 34-yd. pass from Muhammad-Rogers (Tears, pass from Muhammad-Rogers)
Richards Rushing: Johnson 10-37, Willett 2-15, Muhammad-Rogers 13-3, Hill 1-5. Passing: Muhammad-Rogers 21-11-247. Receiving: Tears 4-96, Shannon 3-53, Willett 2-13, Carpenter 1-69, Johnson 1-16.