MORRISTOWN, NJ- What a difference a week can make. After a demoralizing blowout loss to Sparta at home last Friday, the Randolph football team displayed resiliency by bouncing back and taking a 28-21 comeback win on the road in Morristown.
"Two great teams played a great football game today,” said Rams coach Mike Lyons. “For us to come out on top in this game says a lot about these guys after absorbing a 52-7 loss. It says a lot about their will, their desire, and their character.”
The teams traded possessions back and forth for most of the first half, and although Morristown was getting the better of the Rams early on, neither team could muster up any points. That all changed with two minutes left in the half, when the offenses started to click, and the Colonials struck first taking a 7-0 lead on a 20 yard run around the right side.
Randolph’s Jimmy Pepe then sparked his team, when took the ensuing kickoff up the left side of the field, racing 55 yards all the way down to the Colonials 30 yard line. From there, QB Justin Suarez completed passes of 15 yards to Nick Wolmart and 10 yards to Dom Scali, and Randolph was on the 1 yard line with 13 seconds to go in the half.
Running back Matt Kuntz took it in from the one to tie the game at 7-7 going in to half.
Morristown took the lead again early in the second on a QB keeper up the gut that turned into a 40 yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead.
Two possessions later, Suarez connected with Walmart on a short pass at the 50, and the senior took it the distance down the left sideline, shaking a few tackles along the way to tie the game at 14-14.
“I told coach I thought we should run a screen to Wolmart because the corner was playing back giving him room,” said Suarez. “Coach agreed so we threw it out to him and let him do the rest.”
Morristown however, answered right back on their next drive, using a fourth-down conversion, and a 30 yard run to reach the Rams three yard line. The Rams defense rose up and stuffed the Colonials on three straight plays, but on fourth and a half yard, Morristown barely edged the ball across the line to grab a 21-14 lead just minutes into the fourth quarter.
Later in the fourth, a Morristown fumble was recovered by Randolph defensive lineman Brian Murphy, and the Rams were knocking on the door at the 30 yard line. Then Suarez to Wolmart struck again. After collecting a short pass at the15 yard line, Wolmart broke a tackle and scampered into the end zone with a 20 yard TD reception, earning a 21-21 tie with only four minutes left.
“Justin knew he was going to throw to me right off the snap, because they kept playing off me,” said Wolmart. On both touchdowns, I was lucky enough to make a couple guys miss and I was off to the races.”
Randolph’s defense rose to the occasion and stopped the next Morristown possession cold with two minutes left in the game, as Ryan Cimbal sacked the Colonials QB on third and long to force a punt.
Matt Kuntz took a risk fielding the short punt in traffic with no fair catch call, but it paid off big time when he scampered 25 yards to give the Rams possession just shy of the 50 yard line with under two minutes remaining.
Suarez then connected with Joe Buttafucco on a slant pattern, and the senior running back raced down the left sideline to the seven yard line. After two short runs left the Rams facing a third and one, Suarez scored on a QB keeper with only 14 seconds left on the clock for a 28-21 lead.
“Chandler Boykins had a great game for us today on defense, and Justin Suarez called some of his own plays on offense,” said Lyons. I give him credit for the play calls on two of our touchdowns. He knew what he saw out on the field, he is a mature leader who the kids trust, and we rallied around him.”
The game ended two plays later with a celebration from the Rams bench, as the team was pleased to be able to right the ship.
“After last week’s game, we talked about coming back out here with a clean slate,” said captain and two way lineman Chandler Boykins. “We put that tough loss in the past and talked about playing for the future and we focused all week only on getting ready for Morristown.”
Wolmart agreed, stating, “We came out and grinded all week in practice, and all our captains stepped up making sure we all had our minds straight and focused to come out and make a statement today.”
Next up for the Rams is Morris Knolls, home on Saturday night September 23.
Our offensive line killed it today, and Justin was unbelievable with his arm,” said Tony Fodali. “Next week against Knolls we play a similar offense in the Veer, so this was good preparation for that. We just have to keep going and use todays’ game as a stepping stone to get better.”