WILMINGTON — Riley Caldwell rushed for 228 yards and 3 touchdowns in the second half as Ross defeated Wilmington 48-31 in the season opener Friday night at Alumni Field.
Caldwell spearheaded a Rams’ rushing attack that shredded the Wilmington defense 475 yards, 439 on the ground. Caldwell finished with 248 yards rushing while Brayden Fraasman had 127 and Jaye Warren had 50, including a 46-yard scoring run for the Rams’ first score.
“We knew they had three really good backs,” WHS head coach Scott Killen said.
Despite the yardage allowed, Wilmington’s defense did not play poorly, Killen said.
“We’re close,” he added. “We just weren’t consistent on our jobs.”
The loss, though not how he wanted the season to start, does not put a damper on the remaining games for Killen.
“Coach (Kenyon) Commins and Ross is a very good program. They were regional (Region 8) runnersup last year.
“We had several kids go both ways compared to their two platoon. It was hot. We have to condition better and take care of our bodies better.”
Wilmington rushed for more than 250 yards and passed for another 131 but had too many turnovers to be consistent on offense.
Thad Stuckey rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns while Cameron McEvoy had 104. Isaiah Rigling had 76 yards on one catch and Jeff Valentine added 40 yards in receptions.
The Hurricane looked sharp early, forcing Ross into negative yardage and a punt on the first series. The offense responded with a nine-play, 60-yard scoring drive, capped by a Stuckey 2 yard run at 6:26. Parker Henry’s point after made it 7-0.
Wilmington recovered a fumble two plays later and Henry turned that in to a 10-0 WHS lead with a 19 yard field goal. Stuckey had a big 21 yard run in the series.
Ross began the comeback on the next play from scrimmage, a 46-yard burst to the end zone by Warren. The PAT made it a 10-7 Hurricane lead.
WHS had a turnover on the next drive, this one an interception that led to a Ross field goal at 3:37 of the second and the game was tied 10-10.
Quarterback McEvoy hooked up with Valentine for 23 yards and a first down on a third and 17 play. Runs by Stuckey (12) and McEvoy (42) put WHS at the 2. Josh Snell bullied his way to the end zone to put Wilmington back on top with Henry’s PAT, 17-10.
But Ross took advantage of a short kickoff on the next drive (Fraasman 37 yard TD) and an interception (Neumaier field goal) on the following possession to go up at the half, 20-17.
The Rams began to pull away in the third as Caldwell scored two touchdowns following Rigling’s 13-yard scoring reception from McEvoy. Rams 34, Hurricane 24 with 1:47 to go in third.
Just 37 seconds later, though, Stuckey was touching down in the end zone after launching a 74-yard scoring run to bring WHS within three, 34-31.
Caldwell went 63 yards on the first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive, then Fraasman scored from the 2. Answering just 19 seconds after the WHS score, the Rams were again up 10, 41-31.
Rigling and McEvoy hooked up again, this time for 63 yards to the Ross 10 late in the third. As the drive continued into the fourth quarter, Wilmington came up empty with a missed field goal.
August 20, 2021
W-Thad Stuckey 2 yard run (Parker Henry PAT) 6:26
W-Parker Henry 21 yard field goal 3:47
R-Jaye Warren 46 yard run (Jace Neumaier PAT) 3:31
R-Jaice Neumaier 26 yard field goal 3:37
W-Josh Snell 1 yard run (Parker Henry PAT) 2:46
R-Brayden Fraasman 37 yard run (Jace Neumaier PAT) 2:11
R-Jace Neumaier 34 yard field goal 0:07
W-Isaiah Rigling 13 yard pass from Cameron McEvoy (Parker Henry PAT) 9:26
R-Riley Caldwell 8 yard run (Jace Neumaier PAT) 5:57
R-Riley Caldwell 15 yard run (Jace Neumaier PAT) 1:47
W-Thad Stuckey 74 yard run (Parker Henry PAT) 1:10
R-Brayden Fraasman 2 yard run (Jace Neumaier PAT) 0:51
R-Riley Caldwell 40 yard run (Jace Neumaier PAT) 2:33
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email email@example.com or on Twitter @wnjsports