By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Randolph-Macon Academy held powerful Bishop Walsh (Cumberland, Md.) in check for the first half. The Yellow Jackets only trailed by three at the half, but the Spartans took control of the game in the second half en route to a 51-20 victory Saturday.
Bishop Walsh entered the contest averaging over 45 points per game, posting over 50 points in five of their wins, while holding their opponents to a season average of just over 22.
The Spartans (9-1) broke off several long plays, taking advantage of poor tackling and a leaky secondary by the Yellow Jackets (4-5). The Spartans had touchdowns runs of 70, 50, and 34 yards, and reached the end zone on passes of 23 and 20 yards.
Bishop Walsh averaged 10.6 yards per carry (338 yards on 31 rushes) while stifling Randolph-Macon's usually productive ground game. The Spartans limited the Yellow Jackets to a total of 160 yards on 39 carries, for a 4.1 average.
The 70-yard scoring run was executed by Bishop Walsh senior quarterback Terrell McGraw, on the Spartans' first possession of the second half.
On third-and-15 at his own 30, McGraw set up for a pass play. He then pulled the ball down and took off, changing directions at least four times, making Randolph-Macon tacklers miss and reached open space for the final 20 yards.
"In the second half, the big play was [McGraw's] scramble for a touchdown, breaking tackles on a third-and-, when I thought we were going to get good field position and a momentum switch," Yellow Jackets coach Frank Sullivan said.
Through the third quarter, the lefty-slinging McGraw attempted only three passes, with one completion, a 35-yard touchdown strike to Liam Rhodes.
Then McGraw took to the air in a big way in the fourth quarter, going 3-for-3, connecting with 6-foot-4, 220-pound Quincy Redmon for a 20-yard touchdown and a 26-yard gain, and finding split end Liam Rhodes for a 23-yard scoring sling.
McGraw finished with 102 rushing yards on five attempts. He also had 104 yards passing, going 4-for-6 with three TDs.
"[At halftime] we just got a good speech from coach [Mike Allen]," McGraw said. "He told us this was our last game of the year, and for us seniors, it was last time wearing this uniform. It motivated us seniors to keep everyone going. Just to let them know, this kind of stuff, it doesn't come twice. It's a family we built and we just need to stick together and pull this last one out."
The Yellow Jackets' first score came on workhorse running back Jonathan Moore's 17-yard run in the first quarter. It was Randolph-Macon's longest run of the day, and Moore finished with 55 yards on 13 carries.
Andre Lake led the Yellow Jackets' ground attack, churning out 68 tough yards on 13 carries.
The Randolph-Macon defense stiffened to hold the potent Spartan attack scoreless in the second quarter, while posting a touchdown on a 2-yard run by senior quarterback Ryan Pile, to narrow the deficit to 15-12.
Then Spartans turned the tables, shutting out the Yellow Jackets in the third quarter, while posting 14 points, to take a 29-12 lead.
The Yellow Jackets found success in the fourth quarter by switching tactics under desperation, resorting to a rarely-used passing attack on their final possession.
Starting at their own 24 with 5:25 remaining in the game, Pile connected with wide receiver Troy White for a 25-yard gain on first down.
After running for 10 yards for another first-down at the Bishop Walsh 41, Pile found 6-foot-3, 175 pound, senior wide receiver KJ Graham wide open on a left post route for a 41-yard touchdown. It was Graham's first score of the season.
"Ryan's just a tremendous worker and he made a big sacrifice, moving to the quarterback position this year," Sullivan said. "He was, by far, the best wide receiver, and one of the best athletes, on our team. He did a great job, being very unselfish."
Randolph-Macon didn't attempt a pass until early in the third quarter, and it was ruled an illegal forward pass.
Randolph-Macon is now 2-4 all-time versus Bishop Walsh.
"We lost to a good football team, and we knew that coming in," Sullivan said. "I have no grief with our kids. We were 3-1 coming into this one. I just wish we could have finished 4-1."