A near spotless performance from the Richland Rams helped power them to a 63-0 victory over the Greater Johnstown Trojans on Friday night and guarantee themselves a home game next week in the first round of the District 6 playoffs.
“We knew we needed a win to get a home playoff game and everyone came out and did their job,” said Rams coach Brandon Bailey after his team's win at Trojan Stadium.
Fumbling on the first play of the game was one of the few blemishes on a nearly flawless performance by the visiting Rams who recovered quickly following the early gaffe and built a 57-0 halftime advantage with eight straight scoring drives.
Five plays after surrendering the fumble, the Rams responded with an interception from Griffin LaRue on the Trojans first offensive series and never looked back from that point onward.
Starting near midfield following the LaRue pick, junior quarterback Kellan Stahl methodically moved the offense downfield and opened the scoring by calling his own number and beating all the chasing Trojan defenders to the pylon for a 10-yard score.
Autumn Facci split the uprights on the first of her seven successful point after attempts and the Rams were off and running 7-0 with much more to come.
Stahl’s touchdown run may have broken the ice, but it was hardly the last time the Rams found themselves ending a drive in the end zone on Friday night.
Following a pair of Trojan punts, the Rams offense continued to click on all cylinders with touchdowns from Jordan Ford and Grayden Lewis to give the Rams a 21-0 first quarter lead. Ford was the recipient of a 9-yard pass from Stahl while Lewis used his legs to cover 49 yards of turf in front of him.
The run from Lewis was impressive, but it wasn’t even his longest touchdown gallop of the night. Less than two minutes into the second quarter, Lewis broke free a second time and sprinted away from the Trojan defense for a 54-yard score and the Rams led 29-0 with the point after.
As the second quarter rolled along, so did the Rams who showed no signs of slowing down. A blocked punt by Nate Kniss gave the Rams offense a short field which they capitalized on with a 5-yard scoring run from Evan McCracken.
“We have a diverse offense with a lot of different guys who can score and move the ball,” stated Bailey. “It’s tough to stop one guy when you have that type of thing going.”
Trailing 36-0 at this point, the Trojans tried a halfback pass to spark the offense, but Sam Penna had other ideas, jumping the route for an interception. The turnover led to another short field for the Rams offense and they did not let it go to waste. Kellan Stahl escaped trouble with his legs and lobbed a pass to a wide-open Ryan McGowan in the end zone.
Following a second blocked punt, this time by Connor Rager, Stahl found himself back in the end zone with a 9-yard sprint right through the heart of the Trojan defense with little resistance.
On the Rams final possession of the first half, Lewis broke free once again and cruised in from 13 yards away to complete his hat trick of touchdown scores and put an exclamation point on a dominant first half by himself and his teammates.
On a night where six different Rams found the end zone, it was Lewis who doled out the most damage. To go along with his three touchdowns, Lewis racked up 189 yards on the ground on just eight carries, good for an average of 23.6 yards per carry.
While the Rams were putting up points almost at will, Trojans coach Bruce Jordan was still proud of the fight his team showed.
“Our team didn’t quit,” Jordan said. “They played all four quarters against a good football team and didn’t quit. They were scratching and clawing to the last play.”
With any doubt about the outcome far removed by the Rams first half performance, both sides turned over playing duties to their reserves in the second half.
Richland picked up right where it left off, scoring the only touchdown of the second half, a 17-yard connection between backup quarterback Sam Penna and receiver Demont Johnson that ended up setting the final score at 63-0 in favor of the visitors.