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Raiders Lose to Vikings
November 5, 2011Southeastern Conference
ROCKINGHAM — The crowd at Raider Stadium was silent as Northwest Guilford’s Andrew Ritz celebrated with his teammates in the end zone after returning a fumble 17 yards for a touchdown.
Players, coaches and fans dressed in green were stunned as the Vikings were moments away from handing Richmond Senior its first loss in the opening round of the playoffs since 1993.
After Ethan Tingler intercepted a Brent Flowers pass with under a minute remaining in the contest, Northwest Guilford took two snaps in the “victory formation” to cap a 28-14 win.
“I don’t think it has sunk in for the players how big of a win this is,” Northwest Guilford coach Joe Woodruff said. “You look around this stadium and you see all the state championships and conference championships. This is a big win for our program.”
For the first time in four years, Woodruff and his Vikings headed back home knowing they were going to play another week. After three straight losses to the Raiders in the postseason, the Vikings claimed their initial win over Richmond and will travel to No. 1 seed Page next week.
“I feel like this was just another regular season game because we have played them so many times,” Northwest Guilford junior Reid Baxter said. “We had a good game plan and we felt so much better coming into this game than the other times, before we just wanted to keep it close.”
Baxter scored the go-ahead touchdown, his second of the night, on a 1-yard dive with 2:15 left in the game to finish a 10-play, 64-yard drive which drained just over five minutes off the clock.
Following Baxter’s touchdown, the Vikings (9-2) tacked the final nail in the Raiders’ season on the Ritz fumble return for a touchdown just 16 seconds later. Richmond’s Elijah Goodwin caught a screen pass at his own 15-yard line and was fighting for additional yards when the ball came loose and popped into the arms of Ritz.
“This is a little different feeling than the last times,” senior quarterback Matthew Pawlowski said. “For the last three years I have been a part of those losses. Richmond is a great team. They made some mistakes down the stretch and we were able to take advantage of them.”
Richmond coach Paul Hoggard knew it was going to be a tough assignment to overcome the loss of his top two rushers (Dakwa Nichols and Steve Houston) and another (Ridge Sato) trying to battle through a sprained ankle.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Hoggard said after his team was limited to 112 total yards in the second half. “We just couldn’t break loose. When we needed a big play, we didn’t get it. When we needed a big stop, we didn’t get it.”
Despite the being bottled up by the Vikings in the final 24 minutes, the Raiders appeared to be building momentum in the third quarter. Trailing 14-6, Goodwin scored on a 16-yard run and added the 2-point conversion on a reception from Flowers to tie the game.
That was the last time the Raiders (8-3) would threaten to score against the visitors until their final drive which was ended by Tingler’s interception.