By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
The Rummel team that short-circuited Captain Shreve’s goal of a state quarterfinal appearance Friday night wasn’t the same bunch of Raiders who came to town and ended Northwood’s season a week earlier.
This time around, at Independence Stadium, Rummel got radical. After using a power running attack to overwhelm the Falcons, the Raiders were sparked by a surprising, effective short and intermediate passing game as they jumped ahead of the Gators and rode a smothering, shifty defense to a 13-3 second-round Division I Select playoff victory.
“Never saw that on film,” said Captain Shreve coach Adam Kirby. “They weren’t a big passing team.”
Until their first two series. The second-seeded Gators (ending 9-2) started with a methodical 10-play, 50-yard drive to a 3-0 lead on John Chance’s 47-yard field goal 4:09 into action.
Rummel (the 18th seed with a deceptive 6-6 record), which rode tailback Jaidyn Martin’s 214 rushing yards last week, immediately went against form.
Three of the first four plays against Shreve were passes, and when Generald Baggage wasn’t throwing, he was running for 17 and 38 yards (sandwiched around a 17-yard completion to tight end Jake-Ryan Burmaster) in a six-play, 80-yard answer. Martin’s first carry was the last snap, a 1-yard dive for a 6-3 lead (after the Gators blocked the point after try) just under two minutes later.
Shreve moved it effectively again, but Chance was uncharacteristically well wide left on a 33-yard field goal that would have tied it at the end of the first period.
Rummel threw on the next three plays, completing each for the first 30 yards on an 11-snap, 80-yard scoring drive kept alive by a fourth-down 23-yard Buggage to Ruben Ramirez swing pass-and-run down to the Gators’ 11. Martin finished it on only his fourth carry in the Raiders’ first 17 plays, another 1-yard TD plunge, followed this time by a successful PAT.
It was 13-3 eight minutes before halftime. While the game was hardly over, the scoring was.
Watching film of the Gators, and figuring they’d focus on jamming up Martin, Monica and staff changed gears. It worked.
“We saw a lot of man coverage. We thought our receivers could win in some one-on-ones,” he said, “and they did.”
But it wasn’t an Airline-style air assault, just a well-timed one. Rummell finished with 114 yards on 10-for-20 passing by Buggage. Shreve’s defensive backs made several outstanding breakups, especially when the Raiders went up top.
After its two scoring drives to start, Rummel didn’t threaten again until closing out the game.
“Thirteen points to that team? Come on,” said Kirby. “(Our defense) did a magnificent job. They scored on their first two drives … we had some missed tackles. If you would have told me we would have held them to 13 points and (Martin) would have 90-something (96 yards rushing), I’m thinking we’re going to move on to the quarterfinals.”
But nobody, not even Monica, foresaw the Gators – averaging 42 points a game — scoring only a field goal and getting no closer than the 14-yard line.
Shreve ran for 218 yards, 110 on 22 carries by star junior running back Jamarlon “Bobo” Otis and 99 by senior quarterback Quortni Beaner, but could only manage 38 passing yards. Beaner had 20 rushing attempts — probably about half designed as runs, the others resulting from sticky coverage by the Rummel secondary combined with a harassing pass rush.
Repeatedly, Beaner held the ball searching for an open receiver. Few appeared. He scrambled frequently, out of necessity. He fought relentlessly, but not effectively enough – and he shouldered every ounce of the responsibility.
“That was my fault,” he said, haltingly. “It was just me.”
Kirby bristled at that.
“We had a lot of mistakes, self-inflicted, and you can’t do that when you’re playing a really good defense. I don’t think one player should take the blame. It’s easy to look at the scoreboard and see three points, and think it’s one person’s fault. That kid gave us all he had for eight weeks and led us to a 7-0 (1-5A) record and a district title.
“They mixed up their packages defensively. We knew we would have our hands full against a well-coached Rummel team – coach Monica has been part of state championship teams as a defensive coordinator and a head coach. We had plays we could have made, that we didn’t make.”
The winning coach confirmed a blend of even and odd fronts, stemming from in-game adjustments that prevented any trademark long runs by Otis, and some sound strategy to contain Beaner and limit his options.
“We dropped a bunch of guys in coverage, and spied him. Because of the coverage, there weren’t many guys open,” said Monica. “We did a good job in the secondary, and on the line up front with the stunts and movements. Making him leave the pocket helped too, because it took his eyes off where he was looking.
“It was a really good performance. That’s a really impressive offense. Those two big tackles they have are a handful. I’m really proud of the way our guys played, and fought, and we had to do it all four quarters against a really good team.”
The Gators’ best chance to come back died on the first play of the final period, when Chance’s 43-yard field goal on fourth-and-2 from the Raiders’ 26 was barely wide right. Kirby stood firm behind the field goal try, in lieu of aiming for a fourth-down conversion.
“I thought it went in, from my angle. He’s one of the best in the country. The way the defense was playing, (I thought) we’d get a stop … go down, tie it up or maybe win it on a two-point conversion,” he said.
But the Gators’ only fourth-quarter possession started at their own 3, and ended at midfield. Shreve never popped a big play, and fell hard. There were tears, lengthy hugs, and soft, at-times quivering voices afterward.
“It was a great run,” a bitterly-disappointed Beaner offered. “All good things come to an end. I’m going to be proud. I know we could have done bigger and better things.”
They won’t, mostly because Rummel did different things Friday night.
Contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org
RUMMEL 13, CAPTAIN SHREVE 3
Rummel 6 7 0 0 -13
Shreve 3 0 0 0 – 3
CS – John Chance 47 FG
R – Jaidyn Martin 1 run (kick blocked)
R – Martin 1 run (Christopher Wallace kick)
RUSHING – RHS (26-147), Martin 19-96, 2 TDs; Generald Buggage 6-50; Ruben Ramirez 1-1. CS, (48-218), Jamarlon Otis 22-110; Quortni Beaner 20-99; Javen Thomas 3-8; Keaton Flowers 1-13; Jordan Wiggins 1-minus-1; TEAM 1-minus-11.
PASSING – RHS, Buggage 10-20-0-114. CS, Beaner 4-9-1-38.
RECEIVING – RHS, Kendrick Joseph 4-37; Ruben Ramirez 2-28; Jake-Ryan Burmaster 2-28; Chris Wallace 2-21. CS, Otis 2-15; Wiggins 1-18; Gage Haley 1-5.