Aerial show lifts Raiders

Aerial show lifts Raiders

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Aerial show lifts Raiders

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It was fun for Rickards wide receiver Stephen Denmark to be the hero. It wasn’t nearly as nice being the goat, so the senior switched back to hero mode.

Denmark caught an 86-yard touchdown for the Raiders’ first score, then shook off some mid-game mental mistakes to score on catches of 60 and 70 yards, leading Rickards to a hotly contested 32-27 victory over Crestview Friday night at Gene Cox Stadium.

“I just had to get that focus, get my mind right, come out and do better,” said Denmark, who allowed a kick return to drop in front of him, which Crestview (1-2) recovered with a chance to take a second quarter lead.

But Rickards’ defense held to a field goal and a 13-10 advantage. It also stuffed a Bulldogs’ drive before half with a Tramayne Holmes interception in the end zone.

And with just 17 seconds before half, Raiders quarterback Charlie Kelly hit Denmark on a fly route in a crowd. Denmark broke two tackles and reached the end zone with five seconds left.

“It’s a testament to how much will we have as a team, how much determination we have,” Rickards coach Quintin Lewis said. “They kept get put in bad positions, but kept points off the board tonight and scored when needed.”

Rickards (2-0) expanded the lead to 25-10 when Jalen Ashby took a jet sweep option up the left sideline for an 86-yard score.

A Crestview field goal and a 39-yard touchdown from Khalil Foster to Ronnie Baylark cut the lead to 25-20, but Denmark was right back at it, catching a slant on a fake slip screen and bursting 70 yards to the end zone. He finished with five catches for 256 yards.

“We talk about having a short memory,” Lewis said. “We just kept believing in each other . . . Stephen had a great night, but he worked hard in practice too. He’s that type of guy. I hope he can grab them all year long.”

Kelly threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns, including a 24-yarder to Ashby in the first quarter.

“Our coaches tell us to never get down, to fight against adversity,” Kelly said. “Stephen is a great player. He came through when I needed him. He helped me up when I was down on the sideline. He told me when he was out on the field he’d make a play for me.”

Foster’s 1-yard keeper cut the lead again, a turnover on downs stopped Rickards from running out the clock, but the Raiders forced a turnover on downs with under a minute left to seal the win.

“These guys were in a close game for the first time and came out on the winning end, so I’ll take it,” Lewis said. “They were spent. I asked them to give me four quarters of effort and they did.”

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