RANDOLPH, NJ - The Randolph High School football team celebrated homecoming Friday by showing no mercy to its rival neighbors from Roxbury, running out to 26-0 halftime lead, and then cruising to a 33-0 victory to move to 6-0 on the season.
The loss, which came on the heels of a Sept. 29 35-12 victory over Morristown, puts the Gaels at 2-3.
The Randolph team seized on the passion of the Roxbury/Randolph rivalry for pre-game motivation, according to its coach, Will Nahan. “With this being Roxbury week, that was all we needed to say, we didn’t have to fire anyone up,” said Nahan. “The boys came in with an attitude on Monday, both the starters and the scout team. One of my scout players came to me and said, ‘Coach, I treat this like my Super Bowl.’ I loved hearing that.”
The Rams took the opening kickoff and marched straight down the field, needing only four plays to take an early lead. Quarterback Anthony Sophia completed a 12-yard pass to Ryan McDermott and scrambled for another 11 yards to help move the Rams into Gaels territory.
From there, Sofia hit McDermott on an inside slant 12 yards down field and the senior WR did the rest, racing the final 30 yards into the end zone for a 42-yard TD pass and a 7-0 lead.
“They had zero coverage with no safety help, and we saw they were going to try to bring pressure,” said McDermott. “We knew we could beat their man-to-man with our wide receivers. Anthony threw me great ball and we took an early lead.”
On the Rams next possession, kicker John Rodriguez hammered a 35-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.
A Good Effort
The Gaels responded from there and had what would become their only successful offensive drive of the game, methodically moving the ball down the field and deep into Rams territory.
A costly penalty and a stiffening defense shut that down however, and the Rams took the ball back on downs.
Randolph senior captain Matt Kuntz then got into the act when he took a handoff around the right side and outran the defense for a 60-yard TD run. The extra point failed when the Rams went for two, leaving the score at 16-0.
Once again, the Rams defense gave Roxbury nothing, as linebackers Justin Moreno, Derek Rooney, and Justin Townsend wreaked havoc on the Gaels offense. Townsend picked up a sack to force another punt.
After the Gaels punt, the Rams were moving again, but then found themselves facing a fourth and six at the Roxbury 30. Sofia completed a 20-yard pass to George Houston down the right sideline for a first down, and on the very next play he went left and hit McDermott in the end zone for a 23-0 lead.
Another field goal sent the game into halftime with Randolph up 26-0, as the Rams coaches seemed to be pushing all the right buttons.
After halftime, Randolph threw down the hammer with physical off-tackle power running from Derek Rooney. The senior captain carried the ball on five consecutive plays, punishing every Gael who tried to tackle him while grinding the ball down field to the Roxbury ten-yard line.
When Roxbury finally overcommitted to stop Rooney, Sofia wisely kept the ball on an option play and danced into the end zone for a 33-0 lead, all but ending the game.
Roxbury hopes to right its ship on Oct. 12 when it plays is homecoming game against Morris Knolls. The game will also be played as part of breast cancer awareness night.