meadow bridge — On a clear, crisp night at Frank Arritt Stadium, Mother Nature still had the final say when Meadow Bridge welcomed county rival Valley for Homecoming.
But the conditions played right into the hands of the run-happy Wildcats.
Battling through what looked more like a mud bog than a football field, Meadow Bridge pounded the Greyhounds between the tackles, slipping and sliding its way to a 20-0 win.
"It is absolutely great to get a win on Homecoming," Meadow Bridge head coach Dwayne Reichard said. "We worked on things a lot during our off week, so we wouldn't have to put as much into this week. We build floats, have a parade and it is always fun. But the No. 1 thing is people want to come out and see you win a football game. That was what we preached and we came out and got the job done."
With footing nearly impossible all night, field position became crucial and Valley quickly put itself in a huge hole.
The Greyhounds took the opening kick and drove the ball to midfield. But on fourth-and-inches, Valley was called for delay of game trying to draw the Wildcats offsides.
It would be the crucial error of the game. Forced to punt, the ball never reached the punter, who slipped in the mud trying to catch the short snap. Caleb Richmond fell on the ball and Meadow Bridge was in business at the Valley 25-yard line.
Although the Wildcats did not score on the drive, the field position damage was done.
Meadow Bridge held Valley on the ensuing drive and took over deep in Greyhounds territory after a short punt.
Seven plays later, Richmond gave Meadow Bridge all the points it would need when he crashed in from four yards out for a 6-0 lead.
"Our plan was to kick off and kick into the muddy end of the field," Reichard explained. "Essentially force them to start slow. We didn't capitalize when we got the ball, but we kept the field position."
At the half, the Wildcats had 78 yards rushing, while Valley managed just 19. It would get much worse for the visitors after the break.
Not only was running nearly impossible, so was kicking in the thick mud.
A short kick started the second half and Meadow Bridge went back to work between the tackles with Richmond carrying the bulk of the load.
The hard-running senior carried the ball seven times in an eight-play drive, the last carry a 28-yard scoring jaunt after a smooth cutback behind his blockers.
Lukas Stephens scored on the two-point conversion for a 14-0 Wildcats advantage.
"Caleb told me that was the longest touchdown run he has had in his career. He has had some longer runs, but not for touchdowns," Reichard said, laughing. "It was really good for him to get that. He runs hard for us. He is our bell-cow on offense. Good kid and good family."
With Valley struggling to move the ball most of the second half, Richmond put the game away with a 20-yard score with 4:17 to play.
"We felt like the conditions were to our advantage because that is our game anyway. We run straight at you," Reichard said. "We worked on a couple of wrinkles, but we just couldn't use them tonight. The kids are playing hard and they have played hard all year. It is good to get back on our winning ways."
Richmond finished the night with 38 carries for 178 yards, while Valley as a team carried it 27 times for a net of just seven yards. The 'Hounds did have 36 passing yards.
Meadow Bridge (2-3) will look to make it two wins in a row when it travels to Webster County Friday.
"That is going to be a tough matchup for us, but I think we are up to it," Reichard said. "We are starting to get some people back from injury and we are playing pretty decent football right now."
Valley (0-6) travels to Lincoln County.
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V (0-6): 0 0 0 0 — 0
MB (2-3): 0 6 8 6 — 20
MB: Caleb Richmond 4 run (pass incomplete)
MB: Richmond 28 run (Lukas Stephens rush)
MB: Richmond 20 run (rush failed)
RUSHING — V: Austin Hess 3-1, Caleb Crisp 19-20, Zach Winter 4-(-14), Brandon Harville 1-0. MB: Caleb Richmond 38-178-3, Stephens 4-1, Nick White 1-2, Landon Crowe 4-17.
PASSING — V: Hess 2-2-15-0, Crisp 2-2-21-0.MB: Stephens 0-1-0-1
RECEIVING — V: Hess 1-7, Noah Arthur 1-8, Harville 2-21.
TAKEAWAYS — V: Connor Raynes (fum rec).MB: Richmond (fum rec)