RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph Rams’ football team traveled to neighboring Roxbury looking to get back on track against the Rival Gaels. Turns out the trip over the border was just what the Rams needed to break their two game losing streak, as Jimmy Pepe lead the charge with three touchdowns in a 36-14 victory.
“The feeling we had the last two weeks of something we don’t ever want to become accustomed to,” said Rams coach Will Nahan. “It stung for two weeks straight, but the kids responded in practice, the effort was there all week and it was displayed tonight. Hard work pays off.”
Roxbury took the ball first, but went three and out as the Rams defense looked strong from the start. Randolph took over and quickly went to work, using a 22-yard run by Jimmy Pepe, and a 12-yard Justin Townsend run to help them move inside the Gaels 20-yard line.
From there, QB Matt Kleiven did the rest, scrambling in from 14 yards out for a 6-0 Randolph lead.
“It was a great job by my line, I have to give credit to them,” said Kleiven. “I saw a hole on the left side, took off, and was able to get into the end zone.” Kleiven had his best game of the season, going a super efficient 10-for-12 for 160 yards and 2 TD's through the air, while adding the rushing TD to his stat line
After a Gaels punt, Pepe caught a short pass from Kleiven in the flat, made a defender miss and took off down the right sideline. Picking up a great block from his wide receiver, Pepe found his way to the end zone for a 50-yard TD and a 13-0 Randolph lead.
Roxbury showed some fight early, and responded on their next drive by scoring on a 30-yard screen pass to cut the lead to 13-7.
After a Randolph FG made the score 16-7, Roxbury was trying to strike again before half, but their drive was snuffed out by the Rams defense. Defensive tackle Darian Ghahary hit the Gaels QB’s arm on a pass attempt, and Matt Kratchovil intercepted the errant ball.
Out of halftime locker room, Pepe and the Randolph offense was ready to roll.
On their first possession, Pepe took a handoff and scampered 59 yards down the right side to send his team to a 22-7 lead.
“The line was absolutely spectacular tonight, especially sophomore Darian Ghahary,” said Pepe. “During halftime Coach Hickey broke down one of our key plays, and next thing you know we come out of half with a big touchdown.”
After Roxbury Drove to the Rams 20-yard, a missed field goal gave the ball back to Randolph. Pepe wasted no time laying down the hammer on the Gaels, as he took a counter up the gut, and raced untouched 80-yards right down the middle of the field for a 29-7 lead that all but ended the game.
Pepe finished the day with 11 carries for a whopping 257 yards and 2 TD's on the ground, while adding the receiving TD as well.
Roxbury made a last ditch effort, scoring on an 8-yard swing pass to cut the lead to 29-14.
But, the defense would allow no more points, as Jake Blumenthal came up with a fumble recovery on their next possession.
“Roxbury is a tough team, they have some talent in the backfield and a good o-line,” said Nahan. “But we teach our defense to swarm to the football and that’s what they did tonight. Eleven guys playing for each other.”
Kleiven doused any hope of a comeback when he hit Dylan Glincman with a 20-yard seam pass to collect the final points in the 36-14 win. Glincman had 2 catches for 49-yards, while Kratchovil added 3 catches for 33 yards.
“Everyone was very motivated this past week,” said Kleiven. “The scout team came out and did a great job, and overall it was a very upbeat week of practice and I think that paid off tonight.”
The Rams improved their record to 4-2, as they return home next Friday to play the always-tough Sparta Spartans.
“Nothing feels better than to whoop Roxbury,” said Pepe. “As a team we knew that when playing a hometown rival school ( Roxbury ) it really does not matter what your record is, because both teams will absolutely put all their effort on the field.”