A two-yard loss on a rush.
A false start.
A forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
For the Richards defense Friday night at Shepard, that was quite the opening act.
“That hyped us up,” linebacker Ramonta Hill said. “It pumped us up. We knew right then that we had them there and then.”
It was a sign of things to come as the Richards defense completely shut down Shepard, rolling to a 33-0 South Suburban Red win in Oak Lawn.
The conference victory came after a disappointing three-point Week 2 loss at Geneva. For Hill and Co., that’s all the motivation they needed.
“As a team, we hate losing,” Hill said. “It brings us down as a team because we know we have to fix this. We can’t have mistakes. That was a big loss for us, and it motivated us.”
The ball-hawking defense was everywhere for Richards (2-1) on Friday as Shepard (1-2) totaled minus-5 yards of offense.
Hill and Chris Casey combined to force the Shepard fumble on the first drive, with Tyler Demma falling on the loose ball. Two plays later, Romeo Johnson punched it in from three yards out to open the scoring.
“We thought we gave Geneva the game,” Richards coach Tony Sheehan said. “We harped all week that the little things will kill us. We made mistakes we need to clean up (Friday), but we’re still waiting to get our whole team out there.”
Star quarterback Hasan Muhammad-Rogers did the rest for Richards, throwing for 107 yards and two scores while also rushing 15 times for 121 yards and a TD, a 1-yard keeper. He was held to just eight yards rushing vs. Geneva.
“We wanted to show everyone what Bulldog football really is,” Muhammad-Rogers said. “The defense flew all over the field, and that’s fun to watch. Offensively, we wanted to establish ourselves and show what we’re made of.”
On this night, what the Bulldogs were made of was big plays. In the second quarter, Muhammad-Rogers hit receiver Spencer Tears at the line of scrimmage. Running back across the field, Tears weaved through the Astros defense and navigated back to the far sideline, finally turning upfield and running 52 yards for the score to put Richards up 13-0.
Later in the quarter, Muhammad-Rogers scrambled in the pocket to keep the play alive before unleashing a bomb downfield to Ryan Willett in the end zone for the 47-yard strike that gave Richards a commanding 20-0 halftime lead.
“Offensively, it’s whatever the team needs,” Muhammad-Rogers said. “If I have to run, I’ll run, and if I have to throw, I’ll throw it. Just depends on the defense.”
Shepard quarterback Chris Hennington left with an injury on the game’s first play and did not return. Demetrius Harrison rushed 13 times for 16 yards for the Astros.