Friday night’s game of the week in the Bay Rivers District between the Rams of Lafayette High School and the Falcons of York was everything it was talked up to being. Lafayette’s high-powered run offense, which totaled over 350 yards on the ground, against York’s balanced shotgun-style offense which put up its fair share of offensive yardage as well.
With good field position, Lafayette began their first drive in Falcon territory and wasted no time converting it into points. After a heavy dose of William Capers on the ground, QB Connor McGinty faked a hand off at the one-yard line and ran the ball in himself for the first score of the game. Lafayette’s extra point would be blocked.
York would answer however on their next opportunity. After a 9-play drive that took the Falcons into the red zone, QB Alex Johnston connected with TE Brad Myers for a 20 yard touchdown pass to even the score at 6. York would convert their extra point to put them ahead 7-6 mid way through the first quarter.
The Rams however would have a response of their own. On the ensuing kick off, senior Brandon Jones made one defender miss, and out ran the others for a 93-yard return to put the Rams back on top 12-7. Jones would then run the two-point conversion attempt in from five yards out to give the Rams a 14-7 lead. The score would read the same at the end of the first quarter.
Lafayette looked to determined to take full control at the start of the second quarter. After a 27-yard run which put the Rams inside the five, Capers capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown sprint right up the middle to extend their lead 21-7.
Johnston however would answer again. After putting the ball in Jake Norman’s hands, the districts 3rd leading rusher, four plays in a row, Johnston hooked up with WR Logan Bauder for a 73-yard touchdown pass that closed the Rams’ margin 21-14.
Lafayette’s answer this time? A 10-play drive, all on the ground, that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Jones with two and a half minutes left in the second quarter.
The score read 28-14 going into the half. Lafayette had the momentum and the confidence, but the Falcons were not going to be defeated early.
The Falcons opened up the second half with 14 unanswered points to even the score at 28 apiece.
Johnston threw for over 150 yards in the first half, but the Falcons strategy to open the second half was to pound the ball on the ground. And that’s exactly what they did. After nine straight plays on the ground, Johnston kept the ball in his hands and converted the QB keeper from one yard out to pull York within seven (28-21).
After holding the Rams to a three-and-out on defense, the Rams had a shot to tie the game in the final minutes of the third quarter. Johnston completed two passes in a row to bring York into Lafayette territory, and after Tre Thomas gained 15 yards on two rushes, junior Anthony Honey did the rest in the form of a 26-yard touchdown to even things up 28-28 heading into the final quarter of play.
The Rams would again look to the run to regain the momentum. On the first play from scrimmage on their own 26 yard line, Capers took the hand off and didn’t stop until he found the end zone 76 yards later to put the Rams on top once again, 35-28.
Capers was a force all night totaling over 250 yards over total offense. Along with Jones, the Rams running game gave the Falcon defense headache after headache totaling close to 400 yards on the ground alone.
York again would execute their offense driving the ball down the field running time off the clock. With 7:54 seconds left to play, Johnston ran for his second touchdown of the game from just one yard out to bring the Falcons even at 35-35.
With the game tied and the possession with Lafayette, York knew the ball would be in the hands of either Capers, the Bay Rivers leading rusher, or Jones out of the backfield. No matter. Capers ran four straight times for 30 yards followed by a 15-yard run by Jones before Capers scored his third touchdown of the game from 6 yards out to put the Rams ahead 42-15.
With just five minutes to play, it was anticipated that York would look to the air for a quick score before the end of regulation. Instead, they put the ball in the hands of their star back Norman who capped off an 11-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run of his own.
With just 1:00 showing on the clock, Lafayette did something they rarely do at any point of the game. On a well executed play action, McGinty found an open Thomas Smith for a 38-yard gain down the sideline inching the Rams into field goal position. After one more run from Jones, an 11-yard carry, Lafayette head coach Paul Wheeler sent the field goal unit out with four seconds left in hopes of sealing a victory on homecoming. After being iced with back-to-back timeouts from York, Jacob Vaught’s field goal attempt sailed right between the uprights giving the Rams the 45-42 victory in thrilling fashion.
“There’s a ton of pressure being homecoming night,” Vaught said. “It was a team effort on the kick, part snap, part hold and part kick.”
Capers carried the ball 22 times for 261 yards and 3 TD’s while his counterpart, Jones, tallied 8 rushes for 84 yards and one score. Jones also had a kick-off return for touchdown as well. McGinty was 3-4 through the air for 58 yards and ran the ball three times for 20 yards and one touchdown. Smith caught 3 receptions for 58 yards.
For York, Johnston was 12-23 for 248 yards and two touchdowns while running two in on the ground as well. Norman carried the ball 26 times for 127 yards and one touchdown while Thomas had 16 carries for 84 yards.
“We had to do this together and play as a team,” Lafayette coach Paul Wheeler said. “We couldn’t do it just on talent.”