Against City College, in a pivotal game with playoff implications, the Rams were looking for a win to position themselves for a postseason run. But it was one of those games where it seemed it wasn’t meant to be, as the Rams fell 13-6 in a defensive battle that featured both teams struggling to move the ball on offense.
The third quarter proved most frustrating for Digital Harbor as City College put the ball on the turf three times. Two fumbles came on muffed kickoffs and the other one came after a completion. But City College was able to pounce on all three fumbles, preventing the Rams from snagging the ball, and the momentum.
“It was just one of those games,” Rams coach Keith Rudolph said.
Since losing quarterback Dominic Barnes in Week 3 to a broken tibia, the Rams have struggled to find continuity at the quarterback position. Junior quarterbacks Marvin Johnson and Dominic Cooper rotated at the position, but were stifled by a City College defense that wouldn’t allow either to establish a rhythm.
Johnson finished the game 2-4 for 16 yards passing, and Cooper completed three of eight passes for seven yards.
“We couldn’t get any good drives going,” Rudolph said. “We have to get back to the drawing board.”
City College did its damage in the first quarter, scoring a 25-yard rushing touchdown on its first drive of the game to go up 7-0. It followed the score with a defensive touchdown on Digital Harbor’s first drive moments later. On a second down play at the Digital Harbor 18 yard line, the ball was snapped over Johnson’s head and into the end zone. City College recovered for a touchdown. The Knights missed the extra point but were ahead 13-0.
“That was the difference in the game,” Rudolph said.
From there, the Rams held City College out of the end zone the rest of the game.Late in the second quarter, running back Marquis Walker rushed for a 13-yard touchdown to cut City College’s lead to 13-6. But that was the only time the Rams were able to sustain enough offensive momentum to score points.
“It was tough,” Walker said. “We have to rebound (this) week.”
MaxPreps.com uses a formula to predict each classification’s playoffs throughout the season. At 4-3, the website ranks the Rams at 23 in the 3A class. Sixteen teams reach the playoffs, so there’s still hope the Rams can make a playoff run.
However, the Rams need to win the remainder of their games and receive some help from other teams to beat teams positioned in front of them. Digital Harbor faces Mervo and Douglass in the next two weeks. Both are games it can win. If the Rams can get past those two teams, then they could be playing Edmonson-Westside for a possible playoff berth — with Barnes, their star quarterback, back under center.
Barnes is scheduled to get the cast off his leg this week. If the bone healed well, then his rehab will put him on track to appear in the regular-season finale against Edmondson-Westside.
While the postseason is the team’s goal, Coach Rudolph is pleased with the strides the Rams have made this season. In the past two seasons, the Rams won a combined four games and were blown out in the majority of their losses. This season, Digital Harbor has won four games and have been competitive in all seven.
“We’ve made tremendous strides, and I’m happy — of course I’m happy,” Rudolph said. “We’re very optimistic. There are still some games left this season that I think we’re going to win. Again, it’s a tough one. But we have to come back and fight harder.”
by Jason Butt