Everybody has bad starts.
Unfortunately for Orangeburg-Wilkinson, its bad start coincided with a fast start by quarterback A.C. Whaley and a tenacious Richland Northeast defense Friday night at Harry Parone Stadium.
Whaley completed 18 of 32 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and while they lagged in the final two quarters, the Cavaliers closed out a 23-12 victory.
The defense held the Bruins to 36 first-half yards.
“It was our best first half all year by far — on offense, defense and special teams,” Richland Northeast coach Jay Frye said. “We just relaxed in the second half. We’ve done that a couple of games earlier.”
The Cavaliers (3-2) drove down the field and scored on their first possession, with Whaley hitting Ryan Howell in the end zone to go up 7-0 with 7:52 remaining in the first quarter.
On the Bruins’ (3-2) first offensive snap, Cavaliers defensive back Andre Black came down with an Austin Bradley pass at the Orangeburg-Wilkinson 40.
Five plays later, Denzel Washington ran into the end zone from 11 yards out to put Richland Northeast up 14-0.
The Bruins fumbled on the second play of the next possession and defender Railand Quarles scooped it up to put the Cavaliers on the Orangeburg-Wilkinson 36.
Whaley couldn’t move Richland Northeast across the goal line on the drive that followed, which seemed to be the only good fortune the Bruins had.
The Cavaliers added a 36-yard Sam Lourie field goal and another Whaley-to-Howell TD connection from three yards out in the second quarter to take a 23-0 lead at the half.
The Cavaliers ran 51 plays in the first two quarters to Orangeburg-Wilkinson’s 14.
Orangeburg-Wilkinson looked to turn the tide in the second half.
The Bruins put a drive together in the waning minutes of the third quarter. Virgin Johnson plunged in from one yard out at the 11:56 mark of the fourth.
The Bruins added another score two minutes later on Marc Bell’s one-yard run. to cut Richland Northeast’s lead to 23-12.
The Cavaliers didn’t have an answer for Orangeburg-Wilkinson running back Reginald Davenport, who rushed 13 times for 73 yards. Most of that yardage came midway through the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, the Richland Northeast secondary broke up enough Bradley passes to kill a potential third score.
“I don’t know what the explanation is,” Frye said of his team’s second-half letdown. “We got our backs to the wall and sort of panicked. That’s my fault, we’ve got to get that corrected and we’ve got to do a better job when we’re up on somebody.”
Orangeburg-Wilkinson coach Tommy Brown credited the Cavalier’s pass-heavy game plan, but added that his team lacked focus.
“We showed what we were capable of doing (in the second half), but mentally we didn’t come,” Brown said. “We put it together in the second half and shut them down. We’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to play four quarters, but we didn’t do that.”
R – Howell 16 pass from Whaley (Lourie kick), 7:52
R – Washington 11 run (Lourie kick), 6:17
R – Lourie 36 field goal, 2:42
R – Howell 3 pass from Whaley (kick failed), :19
O – Johnson 1 run (run failed), 11:56
O – Bell 1 run (pass failed), 9:09