It was no secret what the Richmond-Burton offense was going to run. Burlington Central just couldn't stop it.
R-B ran plenty of jet sweeps, counters and inside handoffs, plays that had been scouted and prepared for in practice by Central coach Rich Crabel and his staff. However, Crabel's Rockets were unable to match the physicality of the three-time defending league champions in a 28-0 defeat on brisk Rocket Hill Friday night.
A Central defense that had been limiting opponents to 225 total yards per game gave up 342, including 318 rushing yards on 43 attempts. R-B senior Adam Kinsella carried 14 times for 130 yards. Senior Matt Malecki, starting at fullback instead of quarterback after missing last week with a rib injury, rushed for 86 yards on 7 carries. Senior Chris Vlasak gained 48 yards in 6 attempts. All three scored touchdowns.
"A lot of issues have to do with Richmond's ability," Crabel said. "We didn't do what we set out to do, and they did a very nice job with what they do ... I mean, they ran exactly what we thought they would run. They just run it really well."
The result leaves Central (5-2, 4-1) and Richmond-Burton (5-2, 3-1) behind North Boone (7-0, 4-0) in the Big Northern East. The Vikings defeated Genoa-Kingston 21-14 on Friday to grab first place for themselves. However, Central can still attain a share of the BNE title if R-B beats North Boone next week and Central beats North Boone in Week 9.
The teams traded four punts to start the game before R-B broke through with a defensive touchdown. Linebacker Tyler Aitken forced a fumble from a Central running back, and the ball shot directly into the arms of right defensive tackle Johnathan Sherman. He bolted 30 yards for the game's first points on the final play of the first quarter.
"I got that ball and my eyes popped out of my head," Sherman said. "I just took off. I was just in the right place at the right time."
Sherman's march would prove to be enough points as it turned out. Of Burlington Central's 11 possessions, five resulted in punts, three ended with lost fumbles and three times the Rockets turned the ball over on downs. The Rockets' deepest penetration into R-B territory came on their final drive. They reached the 27-yard line, but 6-foot-5 defensive end Joshua Williams stripped Central quarterback Tyler Majewski for a fumble.
Williams harassed Majewski all night. Besides the forced fumble, he sacked the signal caller once and hit him two other times while in the act of throwing. Williams also jumped to bat down an attempted swing pass.
"I thought they were pretty good, actually," Williams said of Central's offensive line. "I think our defense just outdid them. We have a lot of good coaching and it came out better for us. We knew we had to step it up a little bit and we did it."
R-B took a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter on an untouched 25-yard scoring run by Malecki up the middle. On their next possession, Chris Vlasak burst through the line for an untouched 40-yard score, making it 21-0 at halftime.
Central forced fumbles on each of R-B's first two possessions of the third quarter but couldn't manufacture a first down in either opportunity. Kinsella finished them off with a 9-yard scoring run with 4:33 left in the third quarter.
"They're young for a Richmond team but they came to play, there's no doubt about that," Crabel said. "They had to play with a purpose and they came and played with a purpose. We didn't match that."