Richards senior Spencer Tears has a flair for the dramatic.
“We call him ‘Suspense’, ” teammate Hasan Muhammad-Rogers said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
Eisenhower’s players certainly didn’t have a clue when the wide receiver turned running back and scored the game-changing touchdown Friday night in the host Bulldogs’ 36-7 South Suburban Red victory over Eisenhower.
The Cardinals veered right while Tears reversed left out of the Richards backfield for a 27-yard score with 10:58 remaining in the fourth quarter. It erased what had been a 7-6 Eisenhower lead.
“Man, when they told me to switch to slot and run that reverse — everybody knows that reverse play, I love that,” Tears said. “I saw what I saw and broke it open.”
He did more than break open the play. Tears’ touchdown was followed by a furious succession of scores as the Bulldogs (4-1, 3-0) put three quarters of ghastly football behind them.
J.D. Ballentine had the lone touchdown for Eisenhower (1-4, 1-1) on a two-yard run.
For the longest time, Ballentine was the only success story of the night for either team.
Both encountered bouts of self-destruction in the first half, but Richards paid the biggest price.
It came in the closing minute of the first quarter, when a big punt return by Ryan Willett was negated by a too many men on the field call. On the re-kick, a fair catch was fumbled and recovered by Eisenhower’s Keshawntis Cooling at the Richards 23.
Eisenhower was able to punch it in in five plays as Ballentine’s run was followed by a PAT kick by David Gutierrez.
Richards had a chance to get the points back right away, but a huge gain on a pass play was negated by two penalties.
It was a theme that repeated itself until well into the third period, when Richards scored on a Muhammad-Rogers-to-Romello Boykin 20-yard pass. Even then, the PAT failed, leaving the Bulldogs still trailing 7-6.
“We were shooting ourselves in the foot,” Muhammad-Rogers said. “Every time we would get something going we’d have a false start, a missed block … you can’t do that. You’ve got to be even-keel, ready to go.”
Tears’ score capped a 78-yard drive, and seemed to take the air out of Eisenhower’s balloon.
On the Cardinals’ next play from scrimmage, a backward pass in the end zone hit the ground and was recovered for a Richards score by Roque Castro.
The next time the Bulldogs had the ball, Muhammad-Rogers (16-for-28, 191 yards) scrambled for 35 yards, setting up a five-yard touchdown run by Romeo Johnson.
Pat Doyle added a 20-yard touchdown run as Richards recorded a whopping 30 points in the fourth quarter.
“It wasn’t about Richards. It was about executing our plan,” Eisenhower coach Travis Moore said. “We fell short of that, and because of that and playing a good team, it pretty much got out of hand real fast.”