WILMINGTON — At some point before halftime Saturday, a flock of water fowl could be seen flying away from the Wilmington High School football field, putting the lie to the myth that driving rain and fierce wind represents great weather for ducks.
Saturday’s nor’easter may have been too foul for fowl, but the Rams and Wildcats stuck it out. And it turned out to be a great day for Rams. Lynn Classical Rams.
Classical may be smarting from being left off the MIAA postseason football party list, but coach Brian Vaughan wasn’t having any of that. He kept quiet about it all last week as criticism swirled around the state athletic organization over its playoff pairings. And he did not talk about it after his team’s 38-8 stomping over the Wildcats Saturday.
“We came in here with a purpose,” he said, “and that was to play good football and come out with a win. That’s what we did. Whoever we play next week, we’ll have the same goal then.
“We’ve won five games now (5-3),” he said. “Did we lose some games? Yes. Were they tough losses? Yes. But we can only control what we can control, and that’s to go out and play good football.”
The Rams did exactly that. They smothered the Wildcats from their opening drive to the end of the game (their only touchdown came off a fumble recovery). Vaughan was particularly happy with his defense.
“Yes, we dominated,” he said. “I think a lot of that was the rain, and the fact they really didn’t want to put the ball up in those conditions. It enabled us to kind of stack the middle and keep them from running the ball.”
How dominant was the defense ? Wilmington ran the ball 30 times for minus-26 yards.
Meanwhile, the Rams had some success throwing the ball, especially in the beginning of the game. And while Nashaun Butler and Marcus Tucker both broke off some big gainers, the story of the game was Classical’s field position when it started its touchdown drives.
Only twice in the first half, when Classical scored all its points, did the Rams start a drive on their own side of the field. Having a short field for virtually the entire game, the Rams were able to put their speed to full use. On the very first play from scrimmage, quarterback Keith Ridley hit Nashaun Butler with a little shovel pass, and Butler ended up going from his own 45 all the way to the Wilmington 21. Two plays later, Ridley ran it in from the 14 and Classical was in business with an 8-0 lead (with senior Dennis Pierce running in the first of his four 2-point conversions).
Before the Wildcats could get a series under their belt, a fumble led to Pierce’s 38-yard touchdown rumble, and he added the two points to make it 16-0.
On Classical’s first possession of the second quarter, Butler ran for 24 yards to the house and it was 22-0. That was one of three touchdowns for the Rams in the quarter. However, the Rams were deterred — only momentarily — with 4:51 to go in the half when Jared Venezia picked up a Classical fumble and took it to the end zone, and with Connor Benoit’s 2-point rush, the Wildcats were on the board, but still trailed 22-8.
That proved to be not much of a problem for Classical. Marcus Tucker got that right back on the first play after Wilmington’s touchdown — a 58-yard run (with Pierce’s rush); and Malcolm Best’s 15-yarder late in the half closed out the scoring.
Classical is at home this weekend against Marblehead, but the date and time has not been announced.