RICHMOND — When assessing his team's execution against the Richmond Spartans, Fulton Hornets head coach Trey Barrow's summation can be best described as "hit and miss."
"I thought there were times where we executed well," Barrow said. "The kids played hard but there were times where we didn't execute super-well, but you have to give credit to Richmond for playing hard — they're big and physical."
Though there were some encouraging early signs, the misses ultimately piled up a bit too much. The Spartans' consistency and size prevailed as the Hornets fell 42-7 on Saturday afternoon. Play was pushed back by one day as Richmond completed a mandated quarantine.
Early rain showers created a less-than-ideal playing surface, making a steady ground game a priority for the team that could establish it. Richmond drove 47 yards on its opening drive, using a 25-yard pass from junior quarterback Keyshaun Elliott to junior receiver Layne Cavanah to set up its first score — a 5-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Wyatt Marshall less than 3 minutes into the game.
Fulton (0-3) countered on its next drive to take its first lead of the season, extending an initial drive that looked like it would stall 25 yards short of the goal line. But on fourth-and-8, the Spartans flushed Fulton sophomore quarterback Courtland Simmons out of the pocket, allowing him to find junior James Walker in the back of the end zone for the score and a 7-6 edge for the Hornets after the extra point.
"That was a great play — we wanted to get Courtland out into space and we've been working on scramble drills," Barrow said. "The receivers have done a nice job all year adjusting to a more mobile quarterback, and that was a great pass to the back of the end zone to James Walker."
Fulton looked ready to pad that lead when junior Lincoln Smith's onside kick was muffed by Richmond and recovered by the Hornets at the Spartans' 48. But after driving to just outside the 30, the Fulton offense halted on a Simmons incompletion on fourth-and-11.
After trading punts back and forth, Richmond pieced together a three-play scoring drive in the waning seconds of the first quarter, taking a 14-7 lead on Marshall's 10-yard run and two-point conversion by senior running back Adrien Church.
A quick Fulton three-and-out set Richmond up in Hornets territory after the punt, leading to a six-play, 42-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard run from Elliott to extend the Spartans' lead to 22-7 with 7:38 left in the first half. Elliott added to that lead with :26 left in the quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Lance Rogers.
Elliott padded and closed out the Richmond scoring in the third quarter on a 49-yard touchdown run and a 14-yard scoring toss to sophomore receiver Trevin Quick.
"They're probably the biggest line we've faced all year, and their quarterback is a big and physical guy," Barrow said. "We missed some tackles tonight, but I think we held onto him long enough for the pursuit to rally to him. (Elliott) did make some big runs tonight, but that had more to do with contain and assignment."
The Hornets begin North Central Missouri Conference play next Friday night when they host Hannibal. The Pirates (2-0) topped Ft. Zumwalt West 41-21 on Friday night.
"Richmond is a great opponent," Barrow said. "They're big and physical, and I think it'll prepare us well to roll into conference play next week.