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R-MA Football Defeats St. Anne’s-Belfield

On Friday, September 9, the Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) football team traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to take on the Saints of St. Anne’s-Belfield (STAB).  “I want people to wake up Saturday morning, open their newspapers, and say to themselves, ‘What happened in Charlottesville last night?’” said Head Coach Frank Sullivan to his football team Thursday evening after practice.  What did happen in Charlottesville last Friday was a display of perseverance, courage, and family.

The Yellow Jackets went into the contest as the underdogs.  They were the undersized away team who needed all the help they could get, yet they defeated their opponent 41-35.  “I have never been more proud of an R-MA football team,” Coach Sullivan told his players after the game.  Anybody who was in the stands that night fully understands why Sullivan felt such pride in his boys.

It was a dog fight from the opening kickoff and both teams seemed absolutely prepared for each other.  With three minutes and 22 seconds left in the game R-MA found themselves down by 3 points, in possession of the ball, and 97 yards away from the end zone.  That was when disaster struck.  

Running back Jeffrey Collins ’17, who tallied 196 rushing yards and one touchdown on 23 carries, was stripped of the ball which led to another STAB touchdown.  It was a demoralizing play that left the Yellow Jackets stunned, but not done.  STAB went for a two point conversion to take a 37-26 lead, but they were denied by free safety Joseph Leichsenring ’17 when he intercepted the ball from the STAB quarterback.  

The Yellow Jacket offense possessed the ball once again with just under three minutes left on the clock.  On the fourth play of the series quarterback Corban Ruch ’17 delivered a screen pass to wide receiver Alex Ndongo-Seh ’17 who ran it 55 yards for a Yellow Jacket touchdown.  With 1:45 left in the game and the score at 33-35 in favor of STAB there was no doubt that R-MA would execute an onside kick.  

Kicker Ari Adigwe ’18 topped the ball perfectly with his foot as the R-MA kickoff unit raced forward for possession.  A great pile developed over the ball and when the referees cleared everybody off, Collins was at the bottom with the ball securely clutched in his arms.  The R-MA sideline broke into pandemonium at the prospect of having one more shot to win the game.

The clock read 1:40 as Ruch and his offense took the field.  They went 15 yards in three plays and, once again, on the fourth play of the drive Ruch would deliver a precise strike to Ndongo-Seh for a much needed six points.  “We’re going for two!” yelled coach Sullivan.  They went for two and, thanks to Alex Blell ’17 and his stout offensive line, they got it.

The Yellow Jacket defense denied STAB another opportunity to score and killed the remaining 1:05 of the game.  The boys, despite the adversity presented by a good STAB football team, stuck together and displayed the kind of character that R-MA so heavily emphasizes.  It was a great effort by both teams, but at the end of 48 minutes, our boys were the ones with a little more left in the tank.