FCS doubles-up RMA in rivalry win

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A cluster of Rocky Mount Academy players tackle Faith Christian’s Shaikey Hardy, center, Wednesday at Rocky Mount Academy.


Sports Writer

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

If it doesn’t work, fix it.

That’s the approach Faith Christian coach Russell Weinstein took into this season regarding his team’s passing philosophy.

“We’re a play-action team now,” Weinstein said. “We tried to be a drop-back passing team a year ago and it wasn’t working for us, so we decided to put an emphasis on play action off the runs that we do.”

The Patriots threw the ball five times, all play action, and four went for touchdowns as FCS doubled-up Rocky Mount Academy in a 60-30 win on Wednesday. The teams played on a short week after the game was pushed up two days due to weather.

It was the first loss for the Eagles since Nov. 4, 2016.

FCS quarterback Sam Mills was 4-of-5 passing for 155 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Zach Warrick, who finished with 115 receiving yards. All of the touchdown passes came when the Patriots drew the Eagles’ defense close to the line, only to lob a pass to a wide open receiver.

Mills is now 11-for-16 passing with six touchdowns on the season.

“It’s been successful against a bunch of teams,” Mills said of the play-action pass. “After we did it the first time tonight and it worked, we go back to it a second time and it hits again. We went to it and it was open. It’s a good play if you have blockers and people who can catch the ball.”

The FCS defense was strong, too. The Patriots (3-1) allowed just two touchdowns and held RMA to five first downs and 100 total yards of offense. For comparison, the Patriots offense gained 435 yards. FCS sacked RMA quarterback Isaiah Thomas seven times, as the defensive line made a living in the backfield.

RMA (2-1) was never out of it until the second half. The Eagles scored first when Jacob Braddy returned the game’s opening kick 80 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles also got a defensive score when Isaiah Thomas, playing safety, ripped the ball away from running back Shaikey Hardy and went 40 yards the other way for a touchdown to tie the score at 22-22 early in the second quarter.

The Patriots ran away with the game after that, however. Hardy collected 107 yards on the ground with two touchdowns, while Hobart Brantley added a game-high 143 rushing yards.

Three things

RMA loses David

The Eagles lost the services of Peyton David, who didn’t play in the second half with a hand injury. David had one rush for two yards, and a reception for 11 yards in the first half. But his absence allowed the FCS defense to narrow its focus to stopping Thomas and Braddy. 

Impact of FCS’ Josh Hughes

FCS senior Josh Hughes made a bit of a position change on Wednesday. Hughes left his normal spot as a linebacker and moved to the defensive line where his speed quickly became a problem for those Eagles tasked with blocking him.

Hughes had a part in the team’s seven sacks, including four in the second half as the Patriots defensive front wore down the Eagles.

“We just decided to put some quickness and some speed down there to contain the middle,” Weinstein said. “We wanted to make their offensive linemen chase him around a bit because he’s so quick it kind of changes their blocking schemes a bit.”

Jacob Braddy still versatile

The Eagles senior scored touchdowns in three different ways. Braddy returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, then added a rushing score and a receiving touchdown.

Braddy scored three of RMA’s four touchdowns, and both of the Eagles’ offensive touchdowns. Braddy finished with 79 of his team’s 100 yards.

He said it

“I really think the fact that (RMA) had so many kids going both ways caught up with them,” FCS coach Russell Weinstein said. “It was a very intense, physical football game. For 8-man football, that’s about as physical of a game as you’re going to see.”

Up next

Faith Christian hosts Raleigh Grace Christian at 7 p.m. on Sept. 27. Rocky Mount Academy is on the road at Raleigh St. David’s at 7 p.m. on Sept. 21.