On a frigid Friday night, Richmond Academy's players waited 15 minutes after the game for the ceremonial ice water drenching of their head coach.
Chris Hughes said he didn't mind after the Musketeers knocked off Evans, 21-15, for their second huge win in as many weeks.
After finishing 0-10 two seasons ago, Richmond Academy (7-3) completed the regular season as the Region 3-AAAA runner-up. The Musketeers will play host to a first-round playoff game for the first time since 1998.
"This is fantastic," Hughes said. "It shows these seniors have turned this thing around. They're special, and it's turned into a special year."
"This feels really good," Richmond Academy quarterback Mar-Quon Medlock said. "This means more than I can say."
Just two weeks ago, Richmond Academy was left for dead following an upset loss in overtime to Cross Creek. The Musketeers rebounded the following week with a win over Hephzibah before knocking off Evans for the first time since 1976.
The Knights (8-2), the No. 3 seed in Region 3-AAAA, played without senior running back Jonathan Finch.
Finch, who has rushed for 1,024 yards this season, posted a pair of second-half rushing touchdowns last season to lift Evans to a 27-10 over Richmond Academy.
Finch received a two-day in-house suspension, which extended to Friday. Evans coach Marty Jackson said it's a team rule that when a player gets suspended at school the day of a game, that player doesn't see game action.
Evans rushed 29 times for 158 yards. Jamerson Turner led the Knights with 74 yards on 11 carries, while Will Scott added 73 yards on 12 carries.
"We don't predicate around one player," Jackson said about Finch's absence. "He's a good player, but I was proud of Jamerson and Will Scott."
One player made a huge difference for Richmond Academy. Senior running back Jerrel Anderson, still recovering from flu-like symptoms, rushed 29 times for 220 yards and a touchdown. Anderson sat out of practice this week, excluding Thursday's walk-through.
Early in the fourth quarter, Anderson took a hard hit and lost his breath. He walked off the field, but returned for the Muskeeteers' next possession. He capped a 65-yard drive with a 4-yard run, extending Richmond Academy's lead to 21-9 with 6:34 remaining.
"I told coach I had to finish the game," Anderson said.
Evans led 3-0 deep into the third quarter. But Medlock punched it in on a sneak on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
On the ensuing kickoff, Richmond Academy recovered an Evans fumble. Five plays later, Medlock hit Drek Reid on a slant over the middle for 33-yard touchdown. The Musketeers led 14-3.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RICHMOND ACADEMY 21, EVANS 15
PLAY OF THE GAME: Jerrel Anderson scored on a 4-yard run with 6:34 remaining to stake the Musketeers to a 21-9 lead.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Anderson, playing the game not fully recovered from the flu, rushed 29 times for 220 yards.
WHY RICHMOND ACADEMY WON: Running game. Richmond Academy controlled the clock by grinding out 283 yards on 38 carries.
WHY EVANS LOST: In the second half, the Knights lost a turnover and committed three 15-yard penalties (two unsportsmanlike conduct, one late hit).
NEXT: Evans and Richmond Academy, TBA, in first round of state playoffs.