Last week in a win over Averett, Randolph-Macon star senior running back Tre Frederick set the ODAC career rushing record when he rumbled for 198 yards, giving him 4,316 in a Yellow Jackets uniform.
He found the sledding much tougher Saturday. Visiting Emory & Henry stacked the box all afternoon at Day Field and limited Frederick to 89 yards on 20 carries.
But the Yellow Jackets rode a fourth-quarter aerial surge to edge the Wasps 20-17 in a back-and-forth contest.
Frederick said he’s no stranger to seeing eight or nine defenders in the box.
“Playing for Randolph-Macon, teams are going to try and stack the box against you,” Frederick said. “It’s something you’ve just got to get used to, and just find your cracks and seams.”
There were few cracks and seams Saturday, and R-MC (2-1) got off to a sluggish start without the usual production from its formidable ground game.
E&H (0-2) jumped out to a 10-0 lead after a second-quarter touchdown run from quarterback Hunter Taylor.
But a timely interception by Matthew Vergara at midfield set up Frederick and Co. with prime field position.
With the ground game stuck in neutral, Yellow Jackets quarterback Burke Estes found another way to get the ball in his playmaker’s hands. On third-and-10 just past midfield, Frederick broke free on a wheel route.
With no safety in the middle of the field, Estes led a wide open Frederick into the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown catch to put Macon on the board heading into halftime.
“We’ve been working on that concept in practice,” Frederick said of the momentum-changing play.
“Those guys cut me loose, Burke led me, there was good protection. We just executed that play pretty well.”
After a first half of missed opportunities, R-MC coach Pedro Arruza said his Yellow Jackets were lucky to go into the break down just 10-7.
“We were only down 3 at halftime, considering how bad we played, that wasn’t too bad,” Aruzza said. “We just knew we needed to clean some things up.”
Wasps coach Curt Newsome said, initially, the plan to stop Frederick and R-MC’s ground game paid dividends.
“Stop the run, make them throw the ball,” Newsome said. “Then we turned a couple guys loose in the second half.”
After a scoreless third quarter, the offensive fireworks were ignited. With E&H’s focus on Frederick, Estes began finding open receivers.
Two minutes into the fourth quarter, tight end Sam Tanner broke away from his defender as Estes rolled out to the left in R-MC territory. Estes hit his big target for a 65-yard gain, and punched it in two plays later on a quarterback keeper.
But Emory & Henry responded on the next drive when Taylor hit Gunner Griffith for a 14-yard touchdown over the middle.
Down 17-13 with 8 minutes to play, Macon needed another big play through the air with the ground game still struggling.
Estes found Justin DeLeon without a defender in sight for a 53-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline that gave Macon the lead for good.
Frederick and Aruzza both said the Yellow Jackets found a way to execute on passing plays when they needed them most.
“I just think we finally hit some throws down the field,” Aruzza said. “We haven’t been able to do that and we need to be better at that.”
Emory & Henry 3 7 0 7 — 17
Randolph-Macon 0 7 0 13 — 20
E&H: FG Seals 47
E&H: Taylor 9 run (Seals kick)
R-MC: Frederick 45 pass from Estes (Stone kick)
R-MC: Estes 2 run (kick failed)
E&H: Griffith 14 pass from Taylor (Seals kick)
R-MC: DeLeon 53 pass from Estes (Stone kick)
R-MC: Burke Estes 7 of 17, 200 yards, 2 TDs; 8 carries, 18 yards, TD; Tre Frederick 20 carries, 89 yards; 2 rec., 49 yards, TD; Justin DeLeon 1 rec., 53 yards, TD; Sam Tanner 1 rec., 65 yards
E&H: Hunter Taylor 10 of 27, 166 yards, TD, INT; 8 carries, 35 yards, TD;- Derrick Yates 4 rec., 64 yards; Gunner Griffith 2 rec., 49 yards, TD; T.J. Tester 7 carries, 67 yards