Richlands uses late burst to push past upset-minded Pioneers

It was far from pretty, but Richlands scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to escape from Lebanon with a Southwest District win.

Coming off a rivalry loss to Graham, Richlands (5-4, 3-1) found themselves in the middle of a tie ballgame early in the final quarter.

The Blues took an early lead on the first drive of the game behind the legs of junior tailback Logan Steele – taking a handoff 16-yards for the opening score. A Levi Forrest PAT gave the visitors a 7-0 lead just under four minutes into the game.

But it would be Lebanon (1-8, 1-3) who would score next on a Logan Smith run to even the score at seven.

As an aside – the Pioneers’ kicker is junior Carissa Johnson – the only female kicker in the district. She hit her one XP try.

Both Richlands and Lebanon would drive the field for most of the second and third periods – always coming up short.

The Pioneers missed on a Hail Mary from inside the 30 at the halftime buzzer – and were also stonewalled by the Richlands defense on a 4th and goal from the 4 in the 3rd quarter.

Senior quarterback Cade Simmons would score the winning touchdown on a one-yard QB sneak with 9:25 left in the game. Steele would add two one-yard runs – and a late interception – to make the final score 28-7.

The Blues were outgained in the contest 383-371 per the Bristol Herald Courier. Steele finished his night with 24 carries for 215 yards and three touchdowns.

Up next for Richlands is Senior Night for the football team, cheerleaders and band. Rumors around Southwest Virginia have also swirled that it could be Coach Greg Mance’s final home game in Richlands as well. The Blues will take on a Virginia High team that won their first game of their season last week – taking Marion to the woodshed to the tune of 47-12.

Richlands is playing for the chance at the 5th seed in Class 2 Region D. With a win and a Central (Wise) win, the Blues will travel to Norton to take on the Warriors next week in the opening round of the VHSL playoffs.

Kickoff is set for Friday at 7 p.m. from Ernie Hicks Stadium.

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