RICHMOND HILL – It wasn’t pretty and there was plenty of drama.
During their homecoming Friday night, Richmond Hill managed to thwart off a pesky New Hempstead squad for a non-conference 28-26 victory in front of a near capacity crowd of approximately 4,000 at Wildcat Stadium. With the win, Richmond Hill raised its mark to 4-1, winning its third straight.
It was a game in which the host Wildcats had two touchdowns brought back because of holding calls, the latter being quarterback Kirk Scott’s 76-yard scamper that would have sealed the game with 55 seconds to play.
Instead, Richmond Hill eventually punted with eight seconds, and New Hempstead’s Kamari Maxwell was dragged down on his own 44 to end the game. The Wildcats’ Nick Bliss accounted for all of their scores with a four-touchdown night.
The Wildcats didn’t have an answer for New Hempstead wide receiver Jaylen Hampton, who had five straight catches and then scored on a two-yard run that brought the Phoenix within 28-26 with 3:17 remaining in the game. Hampton finished the night with eight catches for 126 yards and a touchdown pass.
Richmond Hill was flagged nine times for 70 yards, and head coach Matt LeZotte knew it wasn’t their best effort. Still, it registered in the win column.
“They played about as clean as game as you could play, and we played about as dirty a game as you could possibly play, but I still feel good about this team,” he stressed. “We let them stay in there, but we were able to finish it.
“Penalties killed us. We had two touchdown runs called back on garbage calls. On their final drive, number two (Hampton) was a foot over the line, and they (officials) didn’t call it. You have to wonder if this game was kept close. But we still have to do a better job at finishing , and we have to make sure that we control ourselves.
However, it proved to be a big scoring night for Bliss, who rushed for three touchdowns out of the Wildcat set and made a pretty diving catch of an 18-yard touchdown pass from Scott. He plowed his way into the end zone behind his offensive line on runs of 10, one and five yards.
Joshua Troupe was a workhorse in the backfield for the Wildcats, as he rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries, and was the key to an effective running game after halftime. Gabe Bauman recorded seven tackles, and Aiden Grant ended a potential go-ahead drive for New Hempstead late in the second quarter with an interception.
“Nick does a great job with the Wildcat, and we have a handful of guys who do Wildcat,” added LeZotte. We’re going to try to keep getting the ball in his hands and everyone else’s hands. We had a great offensive output.
Bliss, who had 38 yards rushing and had 41 yards receiving, felt the game was about staying focused.
“We can blame the refs all we want, but it comes down to keeping our composure, and just playing ball” he said. “We have to be better at that, and we’ll practice it for sure this week. We run in nearly every formation, and we believe we can run through teams, and they can’t stop it.”
Bliss noted that the team regrouped well at halftime that saw the Wildcats play a sluggish first half in a 7-7 tie.
“There is still a lot of work to be done,” he noted. “We’ll take the Homecoming win and learn from it. As a team, our confidence has grown so much that even when we’re not playing our best, we can get into the locker room at halftime, settle down, collect ourselves, and dominate the second half.”
New Hempstead 0-7-6-13- 26
Richmond Hill 0-7-7-14 -28
NH – Kamari Maxwell 19 pass from Rashawn Truell (Jaxson Brown kick)
RH- Nick Bliss 10 run (Blake Williams kick)
RH – Bliss 18 pass from kirk Scott (Williams kick)
NH – Nate Pearson 12 pass from Truell (kick failed)
RH – Bliss 1 run (Williams kick)
NH – Jaylen Hampton 36 pass from Truell (pass failed)
RH – Bliss 5 run (Williams kick)
NH – Hampton 2 run (Brown kick)
Records—RHHS 4-1, 0-0 Region 3-3A; NHHS 2-2, 0-0 region.
Week 5 - Sept. 15, 2023
GHSA Class 7A/4A Non-Region
Richmond Hill 28, New Hampstead 26
GHSA Class 5A Non-Region
Carrollton 47, Jenkins 14
GHSA Class 6A/4A Non-Region
Brunswick 63, Islands 0
GHSA 4A/3A Non-Region
Benedictine 35, Hebron Christian 10
GHSA Class 3A REGION
Savannah Christian 35, Savannah Country Day 0
Calvary Day 57, Liberty County 7
Johnson 20, Beach 9
Long County 52, Groves 20
GHSA Class A Non-Region
Bryan County 22, Portal 14
Cross Creek 28, Savannah High 0
Colleton Prep 3, Memorial Day 0
Bethesda 53, Cross Episcopal 0
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Optim Orthopedics supports Prep Sports and the following schools: Benedictine Military School, Bradwell Institute, Calvary Day School, Liberty County High School, Richmond Hill High School, Savannah Country Day, South Effingham High School, and St. Vincent's athletics. Benedictine Military School, Bradwell Institue, and Liberty County's team doctor is Dr. David Sedory. Dr. David Palmer is the team doctor for Calvary Day School, South Effingham, and Richmond Hill. Savannah Country Day and St. Vincent's team doctor is Dr. Thomas Alexander. Remember, Optim Orthopedics gets you back into the game.