Redhawks Drop Heartbreaker to RNE

Cortes Branham (82) brings down an Elijah Heatley pass against RNE Friday. (photo/Ross Burton)

Cortes Branham (82) brings down an Elijah Heatley pass against RNE Friday. (photo/Ross Burton)

COLUMBIA (Nov. 1, 2016) – In what promised to be a close matchup, the Cavaliers of Richland Northeast High School took on the Westwood Redhawks Friday night. Both teams were hungry, coming off of losing streaks. RNE had been winless in their last three games, and Westwood in their last five games. The Cavaliers pulled out the win, however, topping Westwood 23-15.

The Cav’s got things going in lightning fashion as Javon Hills returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown. The point-after kick by Grayson Maxfield was made more difficult by a celebration penalty, but Maxfield managed to get the ball just inside the right post for a quick 7-0 RNE lead.

Neither of the team’s first possessions went anywhere. When RNE next had the ball, it was deep in their own territory. On second down, the center snapped the ball high, and the quarterback, Charles Simon, had to chase it into the end zone, where he was tackled for the Redhawk 2-point safety.

In the latter part of the first quarter, Westwood’s quarterbacks managed to connect some long bombs to their receivers. Some of them were nullified by the officials, including a pass to Kaden Briggs for an apparent touchdown, but the flags came out again, depriving Westwood of any chance of finishing the quarter with a lead. The score at the end of the quarter was 7-2 RNE.

RNE’s next score was set up by an interception of an Elijah Heatley pass. The pick gave the Cav’s the ball at the Westwood 15, and in short order RNE was up 14-2.

On their next possession, the Cav’s hammered the ball to the Westwood 6, setting up a first-and-goal. The Redhawk defense stiffened, however, holding RNE to a field goal. The Maxfield kick gave RNE a 17-2 lead with 5:22 left in the half.

With 2:04 to go in the half, Kaden Briggs caught a pass for good yardage. Cortes Branham took the ball and raced to the Cavalier 19-yard line. The next Redhawk pass was intercepted, but the Cav’s were called for a roughing the passer penalty and Westwood got the ball on the RNE 10-yard line, first-and-goal. On fourth down, the Redhawks pulled a little razzle-dazzle pitch and reverse to Branham for the touchdown. D. J. Fields kicked a low one, but high enough to clear the bar and score the PAT, despite being backed up by another penalty. The half ended with RNE up 17-9.

The only noteworthy series of downs in the third quarter began with a pass interference penalty against Cav’s, which gave the Redhawks a first down on the RNE 39. Heatley connected with Jalier Freeman, who ran the ball into the RNE red zone. A third down bullet to Briggs was complete for the final Redhawk score of the night. This score brought Westwood as close as they would come, 17-15.

The final score of the night came with 6:30 to go in the game, when RNE quarterback Charles Simons kept the ball and ran it in for a touchdown. The RNE kicker missed the extra point and the scoreboard displayed what was to be the final score, 23-15 Cavaliers. The Redhawks put on a charge in the last few minutes of the game, but needing two scores to win, it was just too much, and Westwood suffered its sixth loss in a row.

After the game, Westwood head coach Dustin Curtis was inconsolable and had little to say to the media. All he would offer was “I’m done!”

The Redhawks travel to South Pointe Friday for their final contest of the season.