Depth and physicality are usually cited as the key differences between football in Class 5A as opposed to 3A.
Second-ranked Archbishop Rummel accentuated those points with a 24-7 victory over top-ranked University High of 3A on Friday night at Boss Field/Gill Stadium.
The 5A Raiders (1-0), ranked 21st nationally by MaxPreps, methodically wore down the Cubs in the second half with a touchdown in each quarter. In addition to outgaining U-High 303 to 151 in total yards, Rummel’s defense limited U-High to 55 second-half yards, including just 19 rushing yards.
“I think our depth might have made a difference, but that’s a fine program,” Rummel coach Jay Roth said. “That’s a solid win for us. We tried to challenge their ability to throw it, and then we decided to just get in there with two tights (tight ends) and run the football like we normally do. I think we might have worn them down.”
Quarterback Chase Fourcade led the Raiders with 95 rushing yards on 11 carries, including a 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
The play helped Rummel pull away on the final play of the third quarter. Fourcade also passed for 65 yards.
A 37-yard TD run by Maurice Bailey with 7 minutes left iced the outcome. Israel Tucker finished with 74 yards on 18 carries for the winners, who had 238 rushing yards.
D.J. White completed 9 of 17 passes for 73 yards and also ran for 43 yards on 19 carries in his varsity debut for University. The 240-pound White was physical enough to run over Rummel’s star defensive back Kristian Fulton on one first-half play. But overall, the Raiders held the upper hand.
“The defense, I thought, came out and did a really good job,” U-High coach Chad Mahaffey said. “On offense I thought we had a really good drive, and we didn’t do a good job of keeping our defense off the field. We had a lot of penalties and some little errors. The margin for error is small when you play a top 25 team in the country.”
It didn’t take the two teams long to understand what a physical war of wills the game would be.
Linebacker Dylan Moses disrupted the Rummel offense enough to allow teammates to make a tackle for loss on the first drive. Moses recovered a fumble on the Raiders’ second possession.
The Cubs took over at the Rummel 40. White’s physical running was evident early and included a 12-yard run that helped set up a 3-yard TD run by Mike Hollins on fourth-and-goal.
Taking a 7-0 lead with 2:01 left in the first quarter was just the starting point. Rummel responded with a 15-play, 84-yard drive.
Tucker was the focal point for the Raiders with 56 yards on the ground. His running was elusive and strong. In fact, Tucker’s 23-yard TD run was the perfect symbol of the physicality. He appeared stopped in the middle of UHS line and linebackers, but muscled through and bolted to the outside to score, tying the game with 9:04 left in the half.
Meanwhile, the Rummel defense put the brakes on the U-High offense. Kristian Fulton intercepted a White pass. The long return was nullified by a penalty, but the play led to a 29-yard field goal by Alexander Bollinger with 2:29 remaining.
“They’ve got 5A athletes,” Guidry said. “We had to come out strong and finish strong. We just had to play physical, especially up front.”
Guidry and the Rummel defense limited U-High to just two first downs in the second half before the final 1:23 of the game, a lesson White vows the Cubs will learn from.
“We made a lot of little mistakes and had penalties,” White said. “They didn’t make mistakes.”