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ESM football fights off J-D, 14-7

Spartans hang on with last-second goal-line stand

— A wet field, made so due to rains that fell just before kickoff and lingered through the first quarter, slowed the game down for both sides during a first half that ended in a 7-7 tie.

J-D's lone points would come late in the opening period. Having run up the middle in the early going, the Rams found the end zone when James Jones, bouncing outside, broke two tackles and raced 40 yards up the right sideline for the touchdown.

ESM immediately answered, mixing up runs and passes on a 69-yard march where Richardson had key passes to Eyan Underwood and Pat Bryant, but then finished off with a 14-yard run on fourth down to the three, from which he found the end zone for the tying score.

DeParde said that he wanted Richardson to scramble more and rely less on his arm, and he proved to be the Spartans' most effective runner on his night. Richardson ran 13 times for 65 yards to complement his 133 passing yards.

But it was what he did with his right leg that really would help ESM late in the third quarter.

Forced to punt near midfield, Richardson sent a high, floating kick that took a big hop, but still managed to settle inside J-D's one. The Rams went three-and-out, and the punt put it on J-D's 31, from where Richardson scrambled 22 yards to set up his own go-ahead scoring pass to Bryant, who finished with 88 yards on nine receptions.

The next time it had the ball, ESM, holding it for nearly five minutes, looked like it would get the clinching score, especially with Richardson making all sorts of clutch plays.

Instead, on fourth-and-inches at the J-D 21, Richardson bobbled the snap, lost a yard, and gave J-D a chance to catch up. But needing to go 78 yards, the Rams only managed 77.

J-D is home again next Friday to face Albany Academy, while ESM pays a visit to Fulton with a chance to clinch the American division regular-season title. Both games kick off at 6:30.

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