By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Randolph-Macon Academy used a variety of scoring methods to contribute to a 48-34 win over Massanutten Millitary Academy on Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets had five rushing touchdowns, a field goal, two safeties and an interception for a touchdown in their win over the Colonels.
Randolph-Macon spread a potent 501-yard ground attack among three leading running backs, each gaining over 150 yards.
Senior Andre Lake chugged for 174 yards on 14 carries, scoring two touchdowns. Junior Jonathan Moore also rushed for two TDs, while churning out 165 yards on 23 carries, and junior Kevin Slaton crossed the goal-line once while lugging the pigskin for 165 yards on 11 carries.
"The line blocked well, and I just ran through the holes and made plays," Moore said. "I keep churning and don't stop. You can't stop until you hear the whistle.
"With hundreds of extra fans, and Homecoming, and an old rivalry game against Massanutten, we came out and showed them we can compete and win."
R-MA quarterback Ryan Pile made only three pass attempts, with a single four-yard completion.
In a stark contrast to R-MA's (4-4) multiple ground weapons, MMA's (3-5) offense was heavily reliant on senior quarterback Kenya Ray-Abrams, both through the air and on the ground.
Ray-Abrams threw for 308 yards, going 18-for-31, with two TDs and two interceptions. His favorite target, 6-foot-3 junior wide receiver Travis Fulgham, had 196 of those yards and both touchdowns. Ray-Abrams rushed 24 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
In the early going, MMA put a damper on the enthusiasm of the alumni-augmented home crowd. On the game's first play from scrimmage, Ray-Abrams found Fulgham on 70-yard completion to the right-rear corner of the end zone, with only 20 seconds gone off the game clock.
On R-MA's second possession, the Yellow Jackets fumbled at their own 45 and Paul Karabetian took the gift all the way to end zone to give the Colonels a 12-0 lead just over four minutes into the game.
R-MA then got on track, sparked by a 72-yard kickoff return to the MMA 27 by Lake. Slaton followed up with runs of 22 and three yards, and Moore capped off the quick drive with a 6-yard scamper into the end zone to cut the lead to 12-7 with 6:25 left in the opening quarter.
The squads exchanged touchdowns for the remainder of the first quarter, as Ray-Abrams connected with Fulgham on a 35-yard scoring strike, followed by a two-point conversion pass to Houston Walls. Lake reached the end zone on a 45-yard scamper as MMA had a 20-13 lead after the opening quarter.
In the second quarter, Slaton scored on a 22-yard run, Ray-Abrams was tackled in his own end zone for a safety, and Gillis made a 25-yard field goal as the Yellow Jackets led 25-20 at halftime.
The only points scored in the third quarter were on a Lake 31-yard run to give R-MA a 32-20 lead.
"Give credit to Massanutten, they've got a great passing game," R-MA coach Frank Sullivan said. "We told our kids on Monday, 'It's Big 10 [style] football against Big 12 [style] football, and we're gonna see what comes out.'
"They came out on fire in the first quarter, but we settled down and we knew we could run the ball on them. And we were able to capitalize on some things, and overcome our usual several turnovers per game. That's part of learning, and the kids are learning how to fight back from adversity. I'm so proud of my seniors. They're a great group."
The fourth quarter saw a flurry of scores. Thirteen ticks into the final frame, Ray-Abrams scored on a 22-yard run, and followed-up with a two-point conversion pass to Fulgham to cut the lead to 32-28.
The Yellow Jackets used three different methods to make the next three scores, starting with a Moore five-yard TD run, followed by Momoh Oluwamishanu's 55-yard interception return of a Ray-Abrams pass. The Yellow Jackets capped it off with their second safety of the game. A snap on fourth-and-21 from their own five, sailed through the end zone giving R-MA a 48-28 lead with 3:08 remaining in the contest.
On their final possession, the Colonels demonstrated a never-quit attitude. Starting on their own 31, the Colonels mounted a 14-play drive. The drive featured seven passes, seven running plays and made two fourth-down conversions.
The biggest fourth-down success was a 24-yard completion by Ray-Abrams to Fulgham, to the R-MA 1-yard line. Ray-Abrams then made the 1-yard touchdown run with 33 seconds remaining.
"One of our most successful plays is a 360 mess," Ray-Abrams said. "And [Randolph-Macon] learned how to cover it, and clamped down on defense [in the second half], making it harder to complete passes to [Fulgham and Jamauri Richardson]. I try to pass more than run, so I can limit my injuries, but if I have to run I will."
MMA coach Chris Gilliland noted the absence of two key defenders.
"Arpy Augustus and Nicky Sanders, starting linebackers, were unable to play today, so we had to get younger, less-experienced guys playing for us," Gilliland said. "I can't say anything bad about them. They played as well as they could have.
"They adjusted [to Fulgham getting open] by putting a couple of guys on the hashes. [Fulgham] was still able to make some plays. He's a special athlete."