Rams, Rockets Bow Out of Playoffs - TribPapers

Rams, Rockets Bow Out of Playoffs

Kamryn White races for a long gain on a reception, versus Dudley Friday. The swift junior is in line to be among TCR’s main returning weapons this fall.

SkylandRadio Hendersonville Buncombe teams in football playoffs’ round two bowed out at home last Friday — but in opposite style, as A.C. Reynolds was shut out 27-0 while T.C. Roberson was beaten at its own high-scoring game.

Dudley Panthers (8-1) were literally unstoppable — scoring every time they got the ball. They reeled off eight touchdowns in a row, to amass a 55-20 halftime lead at Roberson and basketball-like final score of 77-33. This was in 3AA.

Reynolds fell in 3A by 27-0 to Charlotte Catholic (7-1), the reigning state champion. The nearest playoff survivors are Hendersonville which upset Shelby 33-31, its next 2A foe Mountain Heritage which beat Mount Pleasant 26-15, and Polk County which edged North Rowan 30-27 in 1AA.

Whitson-McDay Last Hurrah

In Skyland, the Rams’ tremendous season ended a week after their first playoff victory since 2007. The 35-29 vengeance win at A.L. Brown was the spring’s highlight. Roberson at 5-1 was runner-up to unbeaten Reynolds in the mountains’ elite WMAC. Radio Hendersonville finished 7-2 overall. Third place went to Asheville, at 4-2 and 5-3 overall.

As Ram assistant coach Colton Brackett said, “this is the best team I’ve even seen in nine years of coaching here.”

The Rams’ star senior passing combo of Brody Whitson to Rodney McDay clicked in its farewell encore for team’s first four scores. Three were in the first 16 minutes of the game.

McDay turned in Roberson’s most spectacular play Friday, for a 22-yard score. He leaped and snagged a Whitson pass, just inside the Panther ten. McDay charged ahead, then went into a spin cycle. He spun off of one defender, then spun another Panther at the goal line to score. TCR tied it at 20, at the 8:28 mark of the second quarter.

That followed a balanced shootout in the first quarter, which Dudley ahead 20-13. Roberson struck first, on the first of three Whitson-to-McDay TD passes in the first half. After two Dudley TDs, a mere minute and a half later McDay caught a 15-yard TD pass. McDay answered another Panther TD with his 22-yard masterpiece.

McDay made nine catches for 97 yards, with nearly half (four of nine) of them scoring receptions. Zharius Looper, also a senior, caught four passes. He ran for a team-most 76 yards (7 ypc.).

All Ram scores were through the air, as the massive Panther front stymied the running game. Whitson’s last aerial TD went to Nazir Garner, with 16 seconds left.

Whitson threw for 260 yards. He is heading to Mars Hill, whose scout at the game said he is impressed with Whitson’s skillset.

‘Dudley Do Right’

Ram head coach Jason Dinwiddie noted the Panthers outweighed the Rams up front — often by nearly 50 pounds a person. Fourteen of 58 Panthers weigh at least 270, compared to a mere handful of Rams.

Dudley has even more explosive athletes than TCR has. Best known one bulky but quick Milan Summers. He rushed for 92 yards, and 1,498 so far in the pandemic-abbreviated season. He scored a TD each running and receiving Friday.

Speedster Mehki Wall stole the show. The Panthers say he has 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash. Perhaps if he hopped backwards into a 100 mph wind — since he seems even faster. The junior easily zipped by the Rams — such as for a 45-yard TD run and a 25-yard TD pass play, in racking up 112 scrimmage yards, and in kick returns. Wall’s kickoff return set up Dudley deep, for its first TD. Wall raced 80 yards untouched into the end zone with 8:15 to go in the second quarter, after McDay’s longest TD.

That was the first of eight consecutive Dudley TDs — for a 35-0 blitz for the rest of that quarter, then a 22-0 count in the third. Dudley’s Jahmier Slade threw for four TDs.

Two of the next three Panther TDs in the second quarter were on 64 and 58-yard breakaway runs after receptions, by lanky John Carlos Miller II. Summers’ TD plunge with seven seconds left made it 55-20 at the break.

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