Richmond-Burton’s reign atop the Big Northern East might not be over just yet.
The three-time defending conference champions entered the final third of the regular season trailing two teams in the BNC East standings, but they drew even with one of those front-runners Friday night by going on the road and thumping Burlington Central 28-0.
It was a dominant display for Richmond-Burton (5-2, 3-1) as it piled up 346 rushing yards on offense while forcing three turnovers on defense and holding Burlington Central (5-2, 4-1) to only 190 total yards.
Next week Richmond-Burton gets a shot at the BNC East’s other front-runner when it travels to take on North Boone (7-0, 4-0), which is alone in first place as the league’s only undefeated team.
“The seniors have had (a conference championship) three years running so they’re fighting for it,” junior defensive lineman Johnathan Sherman said. “I had one last year, so I just want to go and get another one.”
Sherman played a key role in swinging momentum Richmond-Burton’s way in the first half Friday.
With the teams locked in a scoreless tie, Burlington Central’s Reilly Marino plunged up the middle on a third-and-3 play in Richmond-Burton territory. Marino was stood up near the line of scrimmage before the ball popped out and right into the hands of Sherman, who raced 29 yards the other way for a touchdown to put Richmond-Burton ahead 7-0 as time expired in the first quarter.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Sherman said. “My backer Tyler Aitken came in and popped it out and I was slanting, doing my job for once. I just grabbed that ball and I swear my eyes popped out of my head. I just took off. It was such an adrenaline rush.”
Richmond-Burton pushed its lead to 21-0 by halftime thanks to a 25-yard touchdown run from Matt Malecki and a 40-yard touchdown run up the middle from Christopher Vlasak. Adam Kinsella capped the scoring with his 6-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter.
Burlington Central had no such success on offense. Despite recovering two turnovers in Richmond-Burton territory early in the third quarter, Burlington Central never managed to move the ball inside Richmond-Burton’s 20-yard line all night.
“A lot of our issues had to do with Richmond’s ability,” Burlington Central coach Rich Crabel said. “We didn’t do the things we set out to do. They did a very nice job with what they do.”
Marino finished with 71 yards on 17 carries for Burlington Central, which saw its four-game win streak come to an end while losing to Richmond-Burton for the fifth straight time.
Four players had at least 50 rushing yards for Richmond-Burton, with Kinsella (14 carries for 131 yards) and Malecki (nine carries for 102 yards) leading the way.
“Our offensive line has improved over the last few weeks,” Richmond-Burton coach Pat Elder said. “We played well tonight.”
RICHMOND-BURTON 28, BURLINGTON CENTRAL 0
Richmond-Burton 7 14 7 0 – 28
Burlington Central 0 0 0 0 – 0
R-B – Sherman 29 fumble return (Hernandez kick), 0:00
R-B – Malecki 25 run (Hernandez kick), 7:33
R-B – Vlasak 40 run (Hernandez kick), 4:14
R-B – Kinsella 6 run (Hernandez kick), 4:33
Team Stats R-B BC
First downs 17 10
Comp.-att.-int. 1-1-0 6-17-0
Passing yards 24 69
Rushing att.-yards 44-346 39-121
Total yards 370 190
Fumbles-lost 3-2 3-3
Penalties-yards 3-35 2-11
R-B – Kinsella 14-131, Malecki 9-102, Vlasak 8-56, Nelson 1-51, Aitken 1-7, Rygiel 8-2, Kirby 1-(-1), Klicker 2-(-2).
BC – Marino 17-71, Davison 13-56, Roach 1-1, Rambo 1-(-1), Breeden 1-(-1), Majewski 6-(-5).
R-B – Rygiel 1-1-0 – 24
BC – Majewski 6-17-0 – 69
R-B – Kinsella 1-24.
BC – Breeden 2-33, Lopez 1-14, Muelling 1-11, Davison 1-8, Rambo 1-3.