Photos by Deon Cranford.

Rockingham win rivalry match with Hamlet

Last Wednesday, the Rockingham Middle football team ended a three-game slippage against Hamlet Middle with a dominating 36-6 win on the road.

The Rockets entered the game on a three-game winning streak and were heavily favored against their rivals, but a quick start from the Red Rams reminded everyone that rivalry games can surprise you.

Hamlet began his opening practice on his own 30-yard line. After the Red Rams lost six yards on their first play from scrimmage, Hamlet quarterback Michael Osentowski connected with Levontae Fisher for 31 yards to move the chains.

Later in practice, Osentowski found a wide-open Cailin Moore spinning along Hamlet’s sideline. Moore made the grab and was brought down at the Rokingham 1-yard line for a 32-yard gain. On the next play, Keith Cummings forced his way into the end zone.

The 2-point conversion fell through, but the Red Rams had a 6-0 lead with 4:14 to go in the first quarter. The impressive 8-game, 70-yard run gave fans of the home team something to cheer about, but sadly that excitement was short-lived.

After the ensuing kickoff, the Rockets took over on their own 40-yard line. Rockingham running back Chance Crowder took over from quarterback Gabe Clark and sprinted 60 yards without touching the dirt. Clark carried the ball for the 2-point conversion and the Rockets took an 8-6 lead they wouldn’t give up with 3:53 remaining in the first quarter.

Hamlet was thwarted by a costly holding penalty on his next possession leading to a three-and-out and keeping the momentum going with the Rockets. A short punt combined with a great return put the Rockets on Hamlet’s 30-yard line.

Following a hold call, Rockingham faced 2nd and 20 in the Hamlet 40. Clark fired down a high snap, faked a handoff and rushed through an opening for a 25 pick up yards to the Hamlet’s 15-yard line.

Two plays later, Crowder forced his way in from 3 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the game. The 2-point conversion fell through, but the visitors had a 14-6 lead at 6:34 into the second quarter.

Despite another long connection between Osentowski and Moore (19 yards) on Hamlet’s next possession, the drive failed and the Red Rams were again forced to punt. Crowder carried the punt to the Rockingham 40-yard line and returned it 60 yards for an apparent touchdown. However, a hold call nullified the big play and the Rockets took over on their own 45-yard line.

For the second time in the match, Rockingham only needed one game to score. Clark hit CJ Covington near the home sideline and Covington broke a tackle, then went the remaining distance untouched for a 55-yard touchdown. Crowder won on the 2-point conversion attempt, increasing Rockingham’s lead to 20-6 with 1:21 remaining in the first half.

The Rockets opened the second half on their own 45-yard line. A 30-yard carry from Shamir Jones, a 10-yard carry from Clark and a 15-yard carry from Crowder are all Rockingham needed to add to their lead.

Crowder’s carry capped the quick run that earned him his third rushing touchdown of the game. The 2-point conversion attempt was short, but the Rockets led 28-6 with 6:09 remaining in the third.

Crowder was having a stellar day on offense and decided to add a key defensive stat as well. On the second play of Hamlet’s next possession, Crowder ran into traffic and caught a pass from Hamlet at the Rockingham 40-yard line.

Runs from Clark, Jones and Keviyon McManus put Rockingham on Hamlet’s 28-yard line. The Rockets were momentarily held up by a hold call, but a 22-yard pass from Clark to Crowder gave Rockingham a first down on the Hamlet 20-yard line just as the third quarter clock expired.

On the opener of the fourth quarter, Crowder scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a 20-yard run. He also caught a pass from Clark on the 2-point conversion attempt for the final point of the game, giving the visitor a 36-6 advantage and setting off a running clock.

With the loss Hamlet’s season ended, but with the win Rockingham (4-1) secured a spot in the conference championship game. The Rockets will face Carver Middle in the title fight on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Scottish High School’s Pate Stadium.

The college cross-country meet is held at Lake Hinson

Last Thursday, Hinson Lake hosted a Southeastern Middle School Athletic Conference cross country meet. All conference schools were represented at the event.

In the girls’ meet, there were 49 runners from the 10 participating schools. Sandy Grove Middle (26 points) won the day narrowly ahead of West Hoke Middle (29 points), followed by Carver Middle (68 points) in third place.

Ellerbe Middle (74 points) finished fourth, Hamlet Middle fifth (88 points) and Rockingham Middle (109 points) seventh. Cordova Middle did not place because they did not reach the minimum number of runners.

Carver Middle’s Khloe Radford finished first in the women’s competition, followed by Ella Sheppard (West Hoke) and Harley Hardin (West Hoke) second and third respectively. Sandy Grove Middle’s Alondra Cardena (4th) and Charlotte Santiago (5th) completed the top five.

Richmond County’s top 20 were Emily Valencia (Hamlet, 7th), Dayana Franco (Rockingham, 9th), Janet Morales (Hamlet, 12th), Gaela Goodwin (Ellerbe, 17th), Macie King (Ellerbe, 18th), Alexis Wilson (Ellerbe, 19th) and Kalani King (Ellerbe, 20th).

The top five teams in the men’s competition were East Hoke Middle (19 points), Sandy Grove Middle (48 points), Hamlet Middle (50 points), Carver Middle (67 points) and Rockingham Middle (84).

Ellerbe Middle (111) and Cordova Middle (112) finished seventh and eighth respectively.

Of the 55 runners who took to the track, Josiah McCallum of East Hoke Middle crossed the finish line first followed by Eduardo Soriano of Hamlet Middle. Giovanni Patterson (East Hoke, 3rd), Christopher Warren (Sandy Grove, 4th) and Daniel Gomez (Cordova, 5th) also finished in the top five.

Other Richmond County top 20 finishers were Angel Huerta (Hamlet, 10th), Antonio Huerta (Hamlet, 13th), Ben Sibley (Ellerbe, 17th) and Liam Ellis (Rockingham, 18th).

The runners will meet at Spring Hill Middle School for the conference championship game Thursday at 4 p.m.

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