A year after losing in shutout fashion, Robert E. Lee loaded up on the run and prevailed in shootout style.
Three running backs broke the century mark rushing, and Robert E. Lee reclaimed bragging rights with an entertaining 39-30 victory over John Tyler on Friday night in one of the highest-scoring affairs in the 56th rendition of the Rose City Rivalry.
Lee lined up and played smash-mouth football, finishing with 442 yards, all but 29 on the ground as a capacity crowd of 11,600 watched at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. LaQuintas Wallace topped REL (1-2) with 142 yards and three touchdowns, with Dalaven Baker (11-103) and Marcus White (12-101) also getting in triple-digits.
The win marked the first all season for REL (1-2), and the initial triumph for first-year Red Raiders coach Randy Huffstickler. Lee never trailed in the first half, and then temporarily fell behind by six points in the second half before taking back control for good on Joseph Seeber’s 1-yard sneak late in the third quarter.
JT (0-3) remained winless as it heads into its bye week.
Lee never attempted a pass in the second half, letting its ground game do all the honors.
“We came in saying we were going to ram it down their throat and make them like it,” Seeber said. “I thought our offensive line played one of the best games I’ve seen an offensive line play. And our running backs were just awesome. “
Lee led by a touchdown when JT trimmed it to two points on Greg Ward’s 14-yard TD pass to Fred Ross. The try for two fell incomplete, however. The Red Raiders returned to the end zone barely three minutes later after a five-play, 80-yard drive, highlighted by Baker’s 63-yard pickup and capped by White’s 5-yard TD.
The Red Raiders defeated the Lions for the 13th time in the past 15 meetings, closing JT’s lead in the all-time series back to one game (28-27-1).
“It’s a rivalry,” Huffstickler said. “We took some punches but we gave some too.”
Robert E. Lee kicked John Tyler around before the Lions picked it up a notch.
An inability to run the ball — and stop it — stymied the Lions, who finished with 67 yards rushing. Lee stopped JT twice on fourth-and-2, including midway through the fourth quarter while clinging to a 32-24 advantage.
Ward finished with 282 yards passing, throwing for two TDs — both to Ross (8-109) and running for a pair (1, 21).
“We’ve got to be able to stop the run,” JT head coach Dereck Rush said. “That was the difference. And when we’re in the red zone, we’ve got to be able to score.”
The teams fought to a virtual draw in the first half, as each piled up 195 total yards.
A pair of long Lumi Kaba field goals helped Lee score first and take the two-point lead into the intermission.
The kicking game led to first score after JT shanked a punt 17 yards to midfield and Lee responded with Kaba’s 50-yarder as the Red Raiders struck first.
Lee led 12-0 after LaQuintas Wallace scored his first of two runs and Kaba booted a 47-yarder.
JT finally scored on Ward’s 1-yard run, though Wallace answered moments later with a 44-yard scamper around the left side behind a solid wall of blockers. JT blocked the extra point, however, and Traven Johnson returned the free ball 80 yards for the two-point conversion, trimming Lee’s lead to 18-9.
JT opened the attack back up for a quick score, with Ross going over the middle for a 26-yard TD as the Lions lowered the deficit to 18-16 at the midway point.
Ultimately, Lee controlled the clock and scoreboard in the second half, where it outgained JT 247-50 in rushing yards.
“That’s what our coach tells us, get the ball and run north,” White said. “It felt good to beat John Tyler. It’s going to kick off our season.”
NOTES: A moment of silence was observed prior to the game for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack.
Robert E. Lee 39, John Tyler 30
At Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium
Robert E. Lee 3 15 7 14 — 39
John Tyler 0 16 8 6 — 30
REL—FG 50 Lumi Kaba, 5:05
REL—LaQuintas Wallace 6 run (run failed), 11:04
REL--FG 47 Kaba, 8:17
JT--Greg Ward 1 run (Julian Varona kick), 4:38
REL--Wallace 44 run (kick blocked, returned by Traven Johnson for safety), 2:00
JT--Fred Ross 26 pass from Ward (Varona kick), :29
JT—Ward 21 run (Justice Liggins pass from Ward), 7:07
REL—Joseph Seeber 1 run (Kaba kick), 3:01
REL—Wallace 85 run (Kaba kick), 11:47
JT—Ross 14 pass from Ward (pass failed), 4:50
REL—Marcus White 3 run (Kaba kick), 1:51
First Downs 17 16
Rushes-Yards 46-413 24-67
Passing Yards 29 282
Com.-Att.-Int. 3-5-0 22-31-0
Punts-Avg. 0-0 2-33.5
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 4-1
Penalties-Yards 7-65 6-42
RUSHING-Robert E. Lee, LaQuintas Wallace 9-142, Dalaven Baker 11-103, Marcus White 12-101, Aneas Sutton 8-71, Joseph Seeber 3-3, Team 3-(-7); John Tyler, DeVonte Haggerty 11-50, Greg Ward 9-19, Rodrick Smith 1-12, Fred Ross 2-(-3), Justice Liggins 1-(-11).
PASSING-Robert E. Lee, Seeber 3-5-0—29; John Tyler, Ward 22-31-0—282.
RECEIVING-Robert E. Lee, Baker 1-10, Jordan Richardson 1-13, Sutton 1-6; John Tyler, Ross 8-109, Haggerty 5-70, Liggins 5-31, Darion Flowers 2-55, Ward 1-14, Smith 1-3.