Richland Northeast will have to wait another week to see if it can get its first win of the season.
The Cavaliers held a 17-15 lead in the third quarter before Sumter scored two second-half touchdowns to close out a 30-17 victory at Harry Parone Stadium on Friday night.
“Our kids continue to play hard, but we just can’t find a way to win for some reason,” coach Jay Frye said. “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Sumter, they kept battling back and got some big plays, and that made the difference.”
Sumter’s Justin Martin scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 39-yard scamper in the third quarter, while Xzavion Burson put the game on ice with a 48-yard TD run with a minute to go in the game.
“We talked about finishing at halftime,” said Sumter (2-4) coach Reggie Kennedy. “We lost all four of our games when we held a lead in the fourth quarter. We did some things offensively that we didn’t do last week (in a loss at Blythewood). This time, we slowed the pace down.”
Down by a point coming out of intermission, Richland Northeast (0-6) took a 17-15 lead midway through the third quarter on Vernon Addison’s 43-yard field goal.
With less than a minute to go in the third, Sumter punched the ball in on Martin’s 39-yard run on a reverse play. Burson added the 2-point conversion to give the Gamecocks a 23-17 lead.
“That was the turning point in the ballgame,” Kennedy said. “That was real big for us there.”
The score turned out to be insurmountable for the Cavaliers.
Richland Northeast had the ball at midfield for two possessions in the fourth quarter, but it couldn’t get anywhere and had to punt on both occasions.
“We had the ball with a chance to win late in the last two or three games, and we just came up a little short,” Frye said.
Burson’s 48-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to go put the game on ice.
Sumter took a 3-0 lead on Brixton Niebuhr’s 26-yard field goal in the first quarter. Each team had two scores in the second quarter.
Richland Northeast quarterback Ryan Howell capped a 13-play, 77-yard scoring drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 7-3 Cavaliers at the 11:19 mark of the second.
The Gamecocks responded with a 55-yard scoring drive that lasted a little more than two minutes. James Barnes found Kyjon Tyler on the left sideline to complete a 26-yard touchdown strike and hold a 9-7 lead after Niebuhr’s kick was blocked.
Later in the quarter, the Gamecocks’ defense forced a third-and-28 at midfield. Howell got the Cavaliers out of a jam when he hit B.J. Dickerson at the Sumter 35. Dickerson battled the rest of the way into the end zone to give the RNE a 14-9 lead with 2:23 to go in the first half.
Just 15 seconds later though, Tyler cut loose on a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to give the Gamecocks a 15-14 lead going into the half.
With the beginning of region play, the Cavaliers look to forget about their losses.
“We’re going to approach this as a new season,” Frye said. “We’re going to try to learn from it and go from there.”
S – Brixton Niebuhr 26 field goal 6:20
R – Ryan Howell 2 run (Vernon Addison kick) 11:19
S – Kyjon Tyler 26 pass from James Barnes (kick blocked) 9:14
R – B.J. Dickerson 51 pass from Howell (Addison kick) 2:23
S – Tyler 91 kickoff return (run failed) 2:08
R – Addison 43 field goal 5:10
S – Justin Martin 39 run (Burson run) :32
S –Burson 48 run (Niebuhr kick) 1:03