HAMILTON – Game planning for this Ross football team is just incredibly difficult. Not only do the Rams boast a formidable and imposing style of play, but a luxurious amount of legs capable of gashing you for big yards.
Southwest Ohio Conference foe Northwest had the unenviable task of slowing down the Rams’ rushers – and proved there’s little you can do once they get going.
A host of Rams – led by senior quarterback Brayden Fraasman – racked up more than 315 yards on the ground in the Rams’ 26-14 win over Northwest on Friday night at Ross.
Both teams enjoyed success moving the ball in the first half, but a costly early fumble by Northwest senior quarterback Darrion Montgomery – recovered by senior linebacker Brendan Sevier – put the Knights in a tough spot early.
Seven plays later, Fraasman punched in his first touchdown of the night for the hosting Rams, who went ahead 7-0.
On the ensuing drive, Montgomery enjoyed some steady success and a steady workload with a handful of direct snap keepers through the teeth of a Rams defense, who sat without a response. The Knights senior capped off an 85-yard drive with a two-yard rushing score, and after a failed point after, trailed just 7-6.
In the latter minutes of the second quarter, sophomore tailback Aidan Brown became the beneficiary of a sudden workload under center – and immediately began paying dividends for Ross head football coach Kenyon Commins. Brown exploded for 38 rushing yards on the 45-yard drive, ending with a five-yard rushing score from sophomore Riley Caldwell.
The look aligned with what Commins had hoped for throughout the contest – mixing in his talented skill guys in a variety of looks in their triple-option offense.
“That’s the thing with the triple (option) that we love,” Commins said. “Riley’s been showing in games, Jay’s had his times, and now it’s AB. As teams prepare, those are things you’ve got to take into consideration. Aidan Brown had himself a heck of a night tonight.”
With time dwindling prior to intermission, Northwest answered the bell in truly spectacular fashion. On just the second pass attempt of the game – by either team – Montgomery connected with a streaking junior DeAveon Perkins for a highlight-worthy pitch and catch. Perkins had just enough real estate as he lunged for the well-placed ball by Montgomery, stumbling his way into the endzone for a potentially momentous touchdown.
Albeit it felt as if the Montgomery to Perkins connection could really swing the pendulum of momentum heavily in favor of the Knights, Ross made some remarked adjustments defensively and quickly silenced any notions of a comeback.
For 21 minutes of the second half, the Rams' defense completely stifled the Knights, holding the Knights to zero yards of total offense – including a handful of tackles for losses. This isn’t a new development for a defense, which has held now four opponents to 21 or fewer points, but their defensive effort was truly impressive considering their early struggles containing Montgomery.
“I hate to see them give up (that touchdown before the half) because that’s a big stat play, a lot of yardage and stuff,” Commins said. “But we played really well in the second half. I’ve been really happy with our defense – really all year. We held Badin to 21 – we lost the game, but it was a heck of an effort by our guys. I’ll tell you now, (Northwest) is a heck of a football team; they’re going to win some games.
Fraasman tacked on his second touchdown of the night in the second half. His score was later complemented by a 28-yard field by junior Sully Spencer to put the Rams comfortably ahead in the waning minutes of the contest.
It felt as if Ross put the game on Fraasman’s shoulders so to speak and let their fate ride in the hands of their senior quarterback. And boy did he deliver. Fraasman was one of two Rams with more than 100 yards rushing, totaling 105 yards and two scores on the ground, and 27 passing yards through the air.
“That’s the thing with Brayden – and I tell everybody, Brayden could play absolutely every position on our team except for offensive line or defensive line,” Commins spoke of Fraasman. “He’s just a hard-nosed, blue-collar kid; he’s the kind we love out here. When he plays football, it’s indicative and a representation of his family and us out here. He’s as blue-collar as they get.”
Fraasman was accompanied by Brown’s stellar 125-yard rushing night and a 50-yard, one-touchdown performance by Caldwell.
Northwest was led in defeat by Montgomery, who ended with 81 passing yards, 98 rushing yards and two touchdowns. All of his receiving yards were to Perkins, who hauled in four receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown, prior to exiting the contest late with an injury.
The victory marks the first conference victory of the season for Ross (4-1) – who springs ahead to the top of the early Southwest Ohio Football Conference standings. They’ll look to continue their momentum at home against Talawanda on Friday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. Northwest (3-3), on the other hand, will look to get back on track against a tough Edgewood team – who has won three straight -- at home on Friday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. as well.
Ross – 7 9 7 3 – 26
Northwest – 6 8 0 0 -- 14