By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL - The host Randolph-Macon Academy Yellow Jackets scheduled a tough opponent for their football season finale and senior day, as the Potomac School Panthers brought a potent attack to George Walton Reddick field for a non-conference game, Saturday afternoon.
The contest went true to form, with the Panthers (7-2) scoring four touchdowns on the ground among a total of 239 rushing yards and reached the end zone twice through the air, with a total of 177 passing yards, on the way to a dominant 41-15 win.
The Yellow Jackets managed only 95 yards rushing and 56 yards passing.
The Panthers' first-half offense featured the running game, with senior Jalen Broome pounding out 99 yards on 18 attempts, with touchdown runs of two yards and one yard.
Broome came in ranked sixth in DC Metro area total rushing yards, with 1,553 on 148 attempts, for a 10.49 average, and tied for eighth with 17 touchdowns.
Given those gaudy numbers, the R-MA (3-6, 2-2 Patriot) defense had notable success in limiting Broome to 127 yards on 22 carries, for a 5.8 average for the game.
Senior running back Andrew Lent took over the lead for Potomac's ground attack in the second half, with 16 rushes for 71 yards, scoring on a 3-yard run in the third quarter. Lent totaled 82 yards on 18 carries (4.6 avg.) for the day.
Potomac's passing attack fizzled in the first half, with senior quarterback Kevin Havermann attempting only four passes, all going incomplete.
But the Panthers' aerial attack sizzled in the last two quarters with Havermann going 7-for-9, bookended by touchdown strikes of 44 and 64 yards to junior wide receiver Josh Hansan.
Havermann also found Hansan, who showed a knack for maneuvering with one or two defenders on him to make successful grabs, for completions of 18 and 19 yards.
Havermann also ran in a 3-yard keeper for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
"In the first half, we really had trouble connecting on the long balls," Havermann said. "We only had four vertical passes. I just had trouble getting some air under it, so the only adjustment [for the second half] was to get some more air under it, as offensive coordinator and head coach [Patrick Duffy] mentioned at half time."
About Broome's 128 rushing yards, "That's pretty much a bad day for [Broome]," Havermann said. "We anticipate a good, solid 200 yards out of him each game. He's one of the leading rushers in the DC area."
Tough luck came the way of R-MA senior quarterback Garrett Cavanaugh, who suffered a right ankle sprain early in the second quarter.
It was Cavanaugh's first year playing at quarterback and first year at R-MA, and he was a key figure in coach Frank Sullivan's strategy to increase the passing game in the offensive mix.
"I just did a scramble and I got hit from the front and another kid came from the back, and I felt a pop in my upper ankle," Cavanaugh said. "I was able to get up and walk off the field, then it started hurting more. We tried icing it, hoping to come back, but nothing was working.
"We were getting better each game. Potomac is really good team. John [Moore] said we were going to shock the world, but I guess that couldn't happen this season. I love my team, I would die for my team, and we played as hard as we could. Unfortunately, I couldn't be in there in the second half."
Senior kicker Ben Gillis made 33-yard field goal to put R-MA on the board, with 3:54 remaining in the third quarter.
Cavanaugh was replaced by sophomore quarterback Peter Blair, who had one completion on nine attempts, but that was a 42-yard touchdown to senior running back Kevin Slaton, at 8:38 in the fourth quarter, to make the score 34-9 in Potomac's favor.
As a final positive farewell gesture , Slaton received Troy White's lateral of a kickoff at the 15 and motored 85 yards for a touchdown with 1:17 remaining on the game clock, making it 41-15, which was the final score.
"It was a last minute thing to set it up," Slaton said. "I just knew once I got past the first defender, they weren't going to catch me.
"Our season got cut short by a couple of games [to foreits], but I think we're more than happy the way [the season] turned out."
With the coming graduation of 11 seniors off its 30-man roster, R-MA faces a significant rebuilding task.
In addition to Cavanaugh, Slaton, and Gillis the departures include stalwart RB/DB Jonathan Moore and 6-foot-4 wide receiver Carson Holder.
"I thought the kids gave their best efforts," Sullivan said. "We always set our goals high. We didn't achieve them, but we did our best to try to get to them.
"You don't know how the [returning] kids are going to grow over the winter and the summer, so we're going to have to play it by ear. But we're going to miss our seniors."