FRONT ROYAL – In the second quarter, Randolph-Macon Academy drove the ball down the field and ended up inside visiting Blessed Sacrament Huguenot’s 5-yard line.
The BSH Knights defense held them to four straight downs and forced them to miss the field goal.
RMA drove again in the third quarter, getting inside the Knights’ 10.
BSH held them to four straight downs again, and when RMA tried a bootleg run on fourth down, Khadeis Battle was there to sack the quarterback.
And then, on a big play in the fourth quarter, RMA got the ball on a punt return back down to about the 15 yard line.
But Dom Falchi came up with an interception and ran it back 15 yards.
“We played much better defense,” said BSH head coach Gary Brock. “Our offense struggled a little bit in the first half, but we made up for it on defense.”
The Knights got a 14-0 first-half jump on RMA and went on to win 27-14.
“This is I think a big moment for us – a big win,” Brock said. “The second half of our season, we hope to be able to improve on things that we’ve learned from the first half. First half was certainly a tough time, and when you’ve got a young team, every time you go out, you’re learning, and…everything’s not always going to go your way.”
And Brock noted how their players have “hung in there as well as they have.”
The win for BSH is now being counted as their second victory of the regular season after both BSH and their first opponent Rapphannock County (whom BSH defeated 31-14) agreed to count the Aug. 16 benefit for Sean McQueen as a regular-season game, bringing both teams up to 10 games each, Brock said.
The Knights finally got back their quarterback Trevor Parker, and he engineered 3 of his team’s 4 touchdowns in Saturday’s win. He churned out a pair of scoring runs for 32 and 4 yards in the second quarter, and he and kicker James Hawkins, who delivered two points-after-touchdown, helped BSH take a 14-0 lead. Parker also connected with Falchi on an incendiary 64-yard pass that Falchi took to the house, extending Falchi’s streak of games with a touchdown to four.
Parker led BSH in rushing on Saturday with 122 yards and the two scores on 15 carries. He also completed four of 10 passes for 79 yards and the touchdown-bomb to Falchi. Parker threw zero interceptions.
As for having Parker back: “That’s huge – it really is,” Brock said. He added that Chase Musselman filled in admirably at the QB position and has done a really good job of leading the team, but also that it’s good to have Musselman and Parker back in their key leading roles on offense, with Musselman at fullback and Parker at quarterback.
RMA had a 35-yard fumble return for its first touchdown of the game in the third quarter, then scored again on a 74-yard kickoff return in the fourth. But Josh Decker, also in the fourth, gave his Knights an insurance touchdown on a 21-yard run.
Behind Parker in the run game, Falchi toughed out 98 yards on 17 carries in addition to his huge receiving score.
Going into Saturday’s game, the Knights in scouting RMA on film saw that it loved to run the dive and mix in the counter play. One of the big moves that BSH made in preparation was switching Chase Musselman from defensive end to inside at nose guard. Chase applied a lot of pressure on the center and was instrumental in flushing RMA’s quarterback out of the pocket a number of times. Khadeis Battle took advantage of that for a strong defensive effort, as he was in on 3.5 sacks on Saturday.
Ben Newton was flying around to the football, rolling out 9 tackles for BSH. Newton was instrumental in shutting down the run on the inside.
The Knights (2-3) look to keep the momentum going into Friday’s road game at Massanutten Military Academy, whom RMA blew-out 62-0 on Aug. 30.
“I think we’re much more confident,” Brock said, adding of Saturday’s win: “It was up in the 90s there [Saturday] and not a cloud in the sky and…both teams were just totally exhausted when they finished.
“But again, it was good to see some smiles on faces and say: Hey, all that work has been paying off,” Brock said. “I think our conditioning was a huge factor in that…the young guys we had really hung in there well and did a good job.”
Friday afternoon’s road matchup at Massanutten Military Academy for BSH kicks-off at 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27.
“We’re not on fire yet by any means,” Brock said. “But we feel much more confident going into the second half of the season.”