Chris Stiles | The Robesonian
Red Springs’ Mishon Wilson (5) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during Friday’s game against Midway in Red Springs.
Chris Stiles | The Robesonian
Red Springs’ Angel Washington (2) and Jauan Stubbs (74) celebrate after Washington’s touchdown run during Friday’s game against Midway in Red Springs.
RED SPRINGS — From the start, it just wasn’t Red Springs’ night Friday against Midway.
The Red Devils went down two scores early, and while they did fight back to within a possession twice in the first half and had a chance to do so in the second half, that early deficit ultimately became a 49-22 loss in their conference opener.
“(Midway) came out on fire. They’re a well-coached team, had a good game plan, they came out and scored early, our kids had a tough time dealing with that emotionally,” Red Springs coach Lawrence Ches said. ‘Then they came back out and got an onside kick, and that put momentum on their side big time. We clawed and fought back, but we had too many turnovers.
“We just did not play Red Springs football — 100% my fault, I take responsibility and Monday we get back to work and we’ve got to fix some problems.”
Midway (3-1, 1-0 Southeastern Athletic Conference) scored in five plays after receiving the opening kickoff, on a Wyatt Holland 9-yard touchdown run, then recovered an onside kick and scored again on the next play, a 35-yard pass from Holland to Nate Smith for a 14-0 lead just over two minutes into the game.
While Red Springs (1-1, 0-1 Southeastern) scored on its first two possessions, they were playing catch up the rest of the way after the Raiders’ hot start.
The Red Devils scored on a 12-play drive ending in a Mishon Wilson 8-yard scoring run; the conversion was no good, making it a 14-6 game with 1:35 left in the first quarter. After Midway scored on a 1-yard Trey Gregory run on the third play of the second quarter, Red Springs scored on another methodical possession when Angel Washington ran 15 yards on the 11th play of the drive, then ran in the conversion for a 21-14 score with 4:15 left in the half.
The Raiders only outgained the Red Devils 312-258, but turnovers hurt Red Springs’ chance to make the game closer. The biggest of them came late in the first half; after the Red Devils recovered an onside kick of their own, Midway recovered a Red Devils fumble at the 14-yard line as Red Springs was threatening to score and pull even. The Raiders scored instead, on a 25-yard pass from Holland to Casey Culbreth on the ensuing drive, taking a 28-14 lead 32 seconds before intermission.
“Football is a turnover game; we lost the turnover margin substantially, so that’s the game,” Ches said. “Our biggest issue is with ball security that we’re going to be working on this week.”
Red Springs punted to start the second half and Midway drove 81 yards in six plays, scoring on a 13-yard pass from Holland to Josh Lupo for a 35-14 advantage. The Red Devils scored two drives later, when Angel Washington ran 56 yards over two plays, including a 20-yard touchdown run; Jamey Tedder connected with Chris Bryant on the conversion to make it 35-22 with 1:36 left in the third.
The Red Devils forced a Raider turnover on downs with 10:06 remaining, giving them the chance to pull within one possession with a score; instead, Red Springs also turned it over on downs and Midway scored two plays later on a 6-yard pass from Holland to Smith to go up 42-22 with 8:34 to go.
Another Red Springs fumble on the second play of the next drive gave Midway the ball near midfield, and the Raiders converted the turnover into points with a 1-yard Gregory run, making it 49-22 with 4:03 remaining.
Midway, whose offensive success in its first three games was mostly through the air, ran for 208 yards; Gregory had 177 of those yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.
Holland was 9-for-16 for 104 yards with four touchdown passes, including two to Smith, who had three catches for 53 yards.
“They’re a hard-working team and they schemed us up well,” Ches said. “The offensive line blocked their tails off. We’ve got to step up and do better.”
Angel Washington ran for 174 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns for Red Springs; all of the Red Devils’ 258 total yards came on the ground with starting quarterback Colton Locklear out.
Friday’s game was the first for the Red Devils since Aug. 20 due to several players being quarantined due to COVID-19 protocols; the team now shifts its focus to next week’s game at Clinton, who beat Fairmont 56-6 Friday.
“Nobody makes excuses for that; we have to prepare, we have to come back from that and we have to be ready to play and prepare for an extra-talented and extra-well-coached Clinton program,” Ches said. “It doesn’t get any easier; we’ve just got to tighten up and toughen up and get back to the drawing board, and do better.”
Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.