Wright Has Huge Night As Cardinals Rally Past Akron
RANDOLPH — Ninety-nine times out of a hundred when a football team enters a first-round playoff game without their quarterback and both starting running backs, trouble is on the way.
Friday night’s Section VI Class C quarterfinal was an exception to that rule, as host Randolph/Frewsburg (6-2) shook off a 12-point first quarter deficit on its way to a 21-12 win over C North No. 3 Akron (4-4).
After being gashed early by a pair of long runs, the C South second-seeded Cardinals defense made the necessary adjustments while new starting tailback Skyler Wright racked up 271 yards on a workman-like 39 carries.
Without the benefit of starting quarterback Tyler Hind, and rushing in place of talented classmates Deter Miinte and Nick Marsh, Wright was incredible.
“He had to be (incredible),” Randolph/Frewsburg head coach Brent Brown said. “We were without Miinte and without Marsh and without our quarterback. We move him from fullback to tailback and the kid played hard. I think our line kind of controlled the line of scrimmage. They had 11 in the box I think at one point. It was good, I’m happy for Skyler.”
While the hosts’ rushing attack looked up to par from the get-go, there was some cause for concern on defense following a blazing start by the Tigers.
The Cardinals’ opening drive of the night came up short on fourth and short, giving Akron the ball back for its second series of the night.
Initially it appeared as though Adam Mietz was able to break the stalemate on a long rush toward the left-side pylon, but that gain was wiped out due to a block in the back.
On the next play, Mietz hit the same hole on the left side of the line for a 24-yard touchdown, which resulted in a 6-0 lead after a missed kick.
While backup quarterback Isaac Hind would get the Cardinals offense going on the next series with a 20-yard keeper, the hosts were forced to punt, downing the Tigers inside their own 10-yard line.
Despite the bad field position, Akron used its team speed once again to pick up points as quarterback Brandon Orr faked a handoff and blazed up the middle of the field for a 79-yard touchdown.
Thanks to some defensive adjustments by Randolph/Frewsburg defensive coach Nate Armella, that would be the last points the Tigers would see all evening.
“I’ve gotta give credit to Armella. They go down and score twice and he made some great adjustments to slow that down. They never scored again,” Brown said.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers had no answer up front for Randolph/Frewsburg’s offensive line.
“They were what we expected. They had a very big line,” Akron coach Andy Clouse said. “Our biggest lineman is as big as their smallest lineman, so that is always going to be a tough battle on both offense and defense.”
Alex Finch banged his way home from 19 yards out for the Cardinals first score of the day while Isaac Hind finished off the first drive of the fourth quarter with a 7-yard pass to Josh Brown to make it 14-12.
Carrying the weight of his team’s hopes on his shoulders, Wright finally tasted the end zone on an 8-yard scoring rush with 4:24 left to play.
In the end, the motivation of senior leadership, as well as the hope of returning key players from injury, were the keys to the comeback.
“You’ve got some seniors that, if you don’t rally, you don’t get to play football again,” Brown said. “You’ve got Miinte and Marsh who, if you do rally, get to play another game next week. We just tried to rally around that and the kids played their butts off.”
In addition to keeping his team poised under center, Isaac Hind added nine tackles while Peyton Hayes grabbed eight and Andrew Bernard nine.
Randolph/Frewsburg will now meet the winner of today’s 2 p.m. faceoff between C North No. 1 Cleveland Hill and C South No. 4 Chautauqua Lake.
AKRON 12 0 0 0 — 12
RANDOLPH/FREWSBURG 0 8 0 13 — 21
Akr–Mietz 24 run (kick failed)
Akr–Orr 79 run (kick failed)
R/F–Finch 19 run (Wright run)
R/F–Brown 7 pass from Hind (pass failed)
R/F–Wright 8 run (Rosengren kick)