R-MA falls to Fishburne in OT

By Dennis Atwood – sports@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL — Randolph-Macon Academy was trying to follow up on its first win of the season, but Fishburne Military School used a two-point conversion in overtime to pull out a 42-41 win in non-conference football action Friday afternoon.

Fishburne took the opening kickoff and mounted a 10-play, 62-yard drive, capped off by a 24-yard Hunter Couchon to Robert Smith touchdown pass for a 6-0 lead at the 6:12 mark.

On its first play on the ensuring possession, from its own 36, R-MA senior quarterback Garrett Cavanaugh connected with Carson Holder at the Fishburne 45. Running back Ayebalayefaa Eke-Spiff’s strong block of a Fishburne safety then cleared the way for Holder’s scamper into the end zone for a 7-6 lead with 5:48 on the clock.

In the second quarter, senior R-MA running back Jonathan Moore broke a few tackles on a 24-yard touchdown run gave the Yellow Jackets a 13-6 edge at the 9:59 mark.

Fishburne scored on a Couchon 2-yard run with 29.9 seconds on the clock to grab a 14-13 lead.

After receiving the second half kickoff, R-MA needed only six plays and 3:30 to move 61 yards and score on a 10-yard Cavanaugh to Holder scoring strike and a 20-14 lead.

Holder was the only R-MA receiver for the game and had four receptions for 144 yards, with one TD.

Fishburne’s Couchot fumbled and Holder recovered the miscue on the R-MA 40.

The Yellow Jackets struck quickly with a 45-yard Cavanaugh to Holder pass followed by Moore runs of 10, 2, and 2 yards, before he punched into the end zone on a second-effort from 2 yards out for a 27-14 lead with 2:04 remaining in the frame.

On R-MA’s next possession, Cavanaugh’s was intercepted at the Fishburne 37 by Raekwon Burnette and returned 63 yards for a pick-six to end the third quarter and cut the lead to 27-20.

In the fourth quarter, R-MA went back on top via a 26-yard TD run by Moore, involving several more broken tackles for a 34-20 lead with 11:06 remaining.

Moore 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, gained 161 yards on 22 rushes, scored three TDs, and made three key defensive plays.

“I’m just smaller than everyone and have a lot of weight in my legs,” Moore said. “People try to take my legs, and I just keep driving.”

Then Fishburne took charge, with the tall (6-foot-3) sophomore Smith coming up big. Smith ran the majority of the 66-yards to pay dirt after receiving Couchon’s pass to cut the lead to 34-26 at the 5:56 mark.

R-MA turned the ball over on downs at a seven-play drive sputtered at the Fishburne 39.

R-MA assisted the Fishburne comeback by committing four penalties for 45 yards in the fourth quarter.

“Things were looking up [in the third quarter] then we just started falling apart a little bit,” Cavanaugh said. “We fought hard. It happens, we just gotta come back next week against Hargrave.

“I’m still working on playing quarterback. We’re still building the team. We just gotta keep working.”

The Caisons took over with 2:17 on the clock, and appeared to be out of luck with 4th-and-5 on the R-MA 49.

But Smith, at quarterback, came up big again, somehow weaving 51 yards to the end zone to tie the game at 34-34.

R-MA had the first possession in overtime and cashed in on Slayton Speer’s second down 10-yard run for a 41-34 lead.

On its turn, Fishburne was kept out the end zone on its first three plays, when Moore put a crushing hit on Ross at the 3-yard line.

“He’s really hurting,” Caisons head coach Dan Baranik said. “In terms of major ligaments and those kinda things, I think he’s gonna be OK. He’ll probably be out a couple of weeks.”

On fourth down, Smith ran over right tackle across the goal line. Putting icing on his own cake, Smith then ran in the two-point conversion, delivering the dagger blow to R-MA’s chances, 42-41.

“We gotta get rid of the penalties, and we gotta get rid of the silly plays,” Moore said. “We should have beat this team. I’m not perfect, but we gotta cut that out. We gotta practice harder than ever. We’ve got Homecoming and if we play like we did today, we’re not gonna win. If we cut out the errors, there’s no way we can lose.”

“We kinda shot ourselves a little bit,” Baranik said. “We had a lot of penalties. It wasn’t a pretty game. I thought they really did a great job. They has us down pretty good. The thing I’m most proud of, is our kids didn’t give up, and they could have packed it in. It was a great life lesson for our whole team.”