Bulldogs handle Argo again, reach 6A quarters
To movie viewers, a sequel often doesn’t measure up to the original film.
For Richards football fans, however, there were no such complaints about Saturday night’s second-time-around performance.
The gridiron show they watched at Korhonen Field was every bit as good as the one that had been on display in Summit a few weeks earlier. Then, the Bulldogs had held host Argo to negative rushing yardage while posting a 27-0 shutout.
Richards coach Tony Sheehan repeatedly told his players prior to a Class 6A second-round rematch with the Argonauts not to expect things to be as easy for them as before. He was right — they were easier.
At least that was so after halftime. While the Bulldogs led just 6-0 through the first 24 minutes, they blew the playoff contest wide open by scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter. Tacari Carpenter, whose fumble had shanghaied a promising Richards series during the first half, supplied them all, which catapulted the hosts to an eventual 31-0 win over Argo.
That propelled the Bulldogs (10-1) into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007. There, they’ll host Lincoln-Way North, a 38-6 winner over Rich Central last weekend, on Saturday.
“From here on out, you’re facing the best of the best,” Sheehan said. “Lincoln-Way North is very sound defensively and they’ll [also] be a very big test for our defense. You’re facing a tough road, but you’ve just got to come out focused and line up and play.
“We got that monkey [of losing in Round 2] off our back. It feels really good to be there [in the quarters], but obviously we’re not satisfied just getting there. I think our kids are hungry and feel they still have something to prove.”
According to Sheehan, Richards definitely found itself in that position midway through its return engagement with Argo. Although the Argonauts never crossed into the Bulldogs’ red zone at any juncture of the contest, the visitors were very much in contention at halftime, thanks to Richards’ offense’s failure to capitalize on opportunities.
The ’Dogs’ lone breakthrough was Romeo Johnson’s 1-yard touchdown run in the opening stanza. Besides the possession that was ruined by Carpenter’s drop, Richards also came away empty on two other promising occasions, once by running out of downs at the Argo 10. A 32-yard field-goal was missed as well.
“We’d get things going and then shoot ourselves in the foot,” Sheehan said. “We’d turn the ball over, or get a nice 25-yard gain and then get a holding penalty. Obviously, you can’t have that. We need to correct that quickly or we’ll be turning our stuff in [for the end of the season].
“It was a little disheartening and you’re definitely scared [at halftime]. Argo’s got some athletes and can make some plays, and you think they’re feeling like, ‘We’re playing with them — one play and we can be tied, or go ahead.’ But we knew there were plays there [for us] and we just needed to make them.”
Carpenter did that right away, as he took a slant pass from Hasan Muhammad-Rogers early in the third period and turned it into a 76-yard TD. The same two athletes then collaborated on scoring completions of 9 and 45 yards before the stanza ran out.
“He took the game over in the third quarter, really,” Sheehan said of Carpenter. “He put us on his shoulders and carried us home.
“Some of the moves he made on those 76- and 45-yard touchdowns were ridiculous. He’d stop and turn around — if you saw them, your mouth would drop.”
Johnson’s 39-yard dash, which was followed by Richards’ only successful conversion of the evening, completed the hosts’ output in the fourth quarter. As for the Bulldogs’ defense, it registered its fifth whitewash in six weeks.
“It’s unheard of,” Sheehan said, referring to Richards’ stretch of dominance on that side of the ball. “It’s a testament to those guys and our coaches for getting them prepared. It’s fun to watch.”
While Argo made greater headway than it had in its initial clash with the Bulldogs, its 151 total yards weren’t going to get it done here. That was less than one-third of Richards’ total yardage, and the Bulldogs also generated four times as many first downs (24-6) as their foe.
Starring for Richards on defense were Romel Hill (nine tackles, one sack, interception), Andrew Venerable (eight tackles) and Kenny Spey (six stops, one sack). Savon Robinson and Ramonta Hill also tackled Argonauts quarterback Jason Noel behind the line of scrimmage, as the Bulldogs finished with five sacks.
Corde O’Neal and D’Ken Jones were Argo’s leading yardage men in defeat. O’Neal gained 48 yards on two receptions, while Jones rushed for 38 on 11 carries.
“The second half, we came to play and took care of business,” Sheehan said. “We hung tough, and we were just happy to get out with a win and be able to move on.”
Carpenter chalked up 229 total yards to pace Richards on offense, while Johnson rushed for a team-best 135.
Argo 0 0 0 0 - 0
Richards 6 0 18 7 - 31
First downs 6 24
Yds. rushing 58 224
Yds. passing 93 263
Total yds. 151 487
Att./comp. 30-9 33-19
Fumbles/lost 1-0 1-1
Had intercepted 1 1
Penalties/yds. 5-55 8-105
Punts/avg. — 1-30.0
HLR — Romeo Johnson, 1-yd. run (kick failed)
HLR — Tacari Carpenter, 76-yd. pass from Hasan Muhammad-Rogers (run failed)
HLR — Carpenter, 9-yd. pass from Muhammad-Rogers (pass failed)
HLR — Carpenter, 45-yd. pass from Muhammad-Rogers (conversion failed)
HLR — Johnson, 39-yd. run (Shawn Chiaramonte kick)
Richards Rushing: Johnson 14-135, Carpenter 2-40, Doyle 6-30, Muhammad-Rogers 8-19. Passing: Muhammad-Rogers 32-19-263, Barker 1-0-0. Receiving: Carpenter 9-189, Tears 4-38, Willett 3-22, Shannon 2-17, Johnson 1-(-3).