It was the Cam Allen show, part II, on Saturday afternoon in Mitchell Stadium.
The senior quarterback accounted for over 250 yards and five touchdowns in helping the Graham G-Men (12-1) push past Richlands (8-5) 38-10.
It only took two plays for Allen to show why he will ultimately be named the region’s player of the year. He hit Devin Lester on a 37-yard bomb to put Graham ahead 7-0.
Richlands wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
The Blues drove the ball down the field on the legs of senior running back Trey Brown. But the drive stalled inside the 5-yard line and junior kicker Levi Forrest nailed a 27-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.
After a Graham 3-and-out, Race Moir had his turn to show he could throw the long ball, finding his favorite target Taylor Horn down the right sideline. Horn was talked inside the five, and that’s where the game turned.
With all the momentum on the visitor side, it quickly disappeared when Horn was hurt on the tackle. A false start pushed the ball further away from the goal, and after senior center Zack Moore was hurt, Moir was pressured into throwing an interception in the end zone.
One play later, Allen did his thing, dashing for 92 yards on his way to what would be the backbreaking score of the day.
It was all Graham from there.
Allen ran and passed for another pair of scores, and push the lead to five touchdowns with an 82-yard punt return touchdown late in the third quarter.
The stat sheet would indicate a game that was more of a close game. Graham outgained Richlands 358 to 340, but the stout defense of Graham came up big when it was needed.
For Graham, a date with the 2C champion Radford Bobcats awaits on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium. Radford features a dynamic player of their own, with a name that Virginia Tech fans will recognize. P.J. Prioleau is the son of Hokie great Pierson, who played for 11 years in the NFL.
That game is schedule for a 2 p.m. kickoff.
Richlands’ bounce-back season comes to a close. The bigger news for Richlands fans will be the status of the long-tenured head coach Greg Mance, who has 199 career wins at Richlands.
After the game, he was asked during his radio interview about whether he would return for a 23rd season.
“That’s the plan.”
Mance will look for his milestone 200th career win when the Blues host Gate City in week one of the 2019 season.
There’s just something about growing up in this area that lends itself to sports. Friday nights are the undisputed king. We all head to the local high school to catch a glimpse of those boys of fall.
That was no different in Richlands where I grew up with a love and a passion for those Blue Tornado. Unlike my co-host, I never strapped that lightning R on my head. I took the band route instead. But that didn’t stop me from becoming most school spirited my senior year, a title I still proudly wear today.
Leaving to get my degree at Virginia Tech actually helped solidify all that I love about this area. Sure, football is a big deal in the NRV as well, but it’s just not the same. And that’s okay. Our area is special.
I’m happy to be back in SWVA this fall and I’m ready to bring you a plethora of content options as we embark on this thing called life. RIP Prince.
Oh, and Hunt Bros. Pizza is the best pizza.