Rummel overcomes St. Aug in 35-34 thriller
METAIRIE – Good teams win in the regular season against familiar opponents.
Great teams overcome adversity in the postseason to defeat a very good, familiar opponent.
The task for top-seeded Archbishop Rummel was to beat a very talented St. Augustine team for a second time this season. The first time was difficult. The second time was inherently more difficult.
In the end, the Raiders remained unbeaten with a clutch drive with the game on the line in the final seconds.
Kyle Wickersham connected with Ivory Wilwright IV on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left to give Rummel a thrilling 35-34 win over the Purple Knights in the Division I quarterfinals at Joe Yenni Stadium in an instant classic in a game heard live on 106.1 FM, NASH ICON.
Both players were knocked out the game injured and both returned to make the biggest play of the season for the Raiders. It was the eighth touchdown connection between Wickersham and Wilwright this season.
“It was a very physical game, a very emotional game,” Wickersham said. “It was a close game all the way through. St. Aug is a very athletic physical team, very well coached. We knew it was going to be a battle until the end. We’re just glad we made one more play. They told me to come out with a cut. I thought the blood is not going to get on anyone else. We were trying to score. Credit our managers. They worked really hard to get my helmet fixed and band-aids on.”
Wilwright IV left in the third quarter with a calf injury but returned in the nick of time.
“It felt great, I was really supposed to run a go-ball but I saw him roll out and we practice out scramble drill, especially after practice, and we just executed it well,” Wilwright said. “I’m thankful for the O-line for blocking and for Kyle having the confidence in me to throw me the ball.”
Wickersham is very thankful to have Wilwright as a teammate.
“I saw them bring a blitz from the right side,” Wickersham said. “The play was originally supposed to go to the right side, it was supposed to go to Koy Moore. I was looking at Koy, saw the blitz, I looked up as I rolled out, I saw Ivory make a great cut to the pylon and just threw it to him. I can always trust this guy to catch the ball. Every single time I throw this guy the ball, he’s either diving or making some miraculous catch. I have total faith in him.”
All season long, the brilliant Rummel defense has carried the Raiders, allowing just 46 points in 10 games.
St. Augustine put 34 on the Raiders and it was legitimate but the Rummel offense stepped up in a huge situation to pull out an incredibly difficult victory to advance.
“I’ve got to give credit to our offensive guys,” Rummel coach Nick Monica said. “Kyle was out with the flu all week and he got hit with a shot to the head on the last drive and he had to come out of the game for a play and he came back in and threw the touchdown pass. The execution in the 2-minute drive was really big.”
The offensive effort was needed as the St. Augustine offense put 358 yards and 34 points on the vaunted Raider defense.
“We didn’t play too well on defense tonight,” Monica said. “I think we gave up more touchdowns tonight than we gave up all season tonight. We’ve got a lot to fix. At this point, it is about winning and moving on.”
Trailing 34-28 with two minutes remaining, the Raiders started from their own 43-yard line with two timeouts left.
Wickersham came up huge on the game-winning drive, completing 4-of-5 passes for 42 yards, including the winning touchdown. He also ran twice, including a 9-yard run and an important 2-yard sneak on a fourth-and-inches play at the St. Augustine 46-yard line.
The script was flipped from the first meeting. In that one, St. Augustine led 12-0 just three plays into the game.
In this one, Rummel led 14-0 in the first quarter.
On the opening possession, Rummel got a stop, put a fierce rush on punter Jaron Marks and his punt went just one yard. The Raiders capitalized, driving 24 yards in seven plays with Jaelen Sturgis scoring on a 1-yard run to make it 7-0 with 6:21 to play in the half.
Malik Woodery then picked off Kendell Sampson at the St. Aug. 43-yard line and two plays later, Logan Diggs raced 32 yards for a score to make it 14-0 with 4:08 to play in the opening quarter.
St. Augustine (6-6) then seized the momentum to dominate the second quarter. The Purple Knights drove 65 yards in six plays with Sampson connecting with Jaheim Walters on a 25-yard touchdown pass. Justin Doyle ran in a 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 14-8 with 7:43 to play in the first half.
The Purple Knights had a chance to take the lead before the half, driving 64 yards to the Rummel 1-yard line with two seconds left but on the final play of the half, Quinton Cage stuffed Doyle for a 2-yard loss to preserve the lead for the Raiders.
Rummel seemed to establish control in the third quarter, taking the kickoff and driving 81 yards in just five plays with Wickersham connecting with Tyler Cook on a 6-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-8 with 9:14 to play in the third quarter.
The Raiders then came up with their second turnover as Sean Grimes picked off Sampson but then a big play in the kicking game changed the game dramatically.
Jabaz Myles blocked a Vanderbrook punt and Byron Turner returned it to the Rummel 1-yard line. Mahmoud Bailey scored on the next play and Bailey ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 21-16 with 6:57 to play in the third quarter.
After getting a stop, St. Augustine drove 41 yards in four plays with Sampson hitting Walters on a 26-yard touchdown pass to give the Purple Knights their first lead of the game at 22-21 with 2:55 to play in the third quarter.
With its season on the line, Rummel coach Nick Monica went with his best player on offense, inserting Donovan Kaufman into the game. Kaufman took a direct snap, broke a tackle, and raced 62 yards for a score and Rummel recaptured the lead at 28-22 with 2:30 to play in the third quarter.
Playing with great confidence, St. Augustine came right back to tie the game, driving 69 yards in five plays with Bailey scoring on a 2-yard run to make it 28-28 after a failed 2-point conversion attempt going to the fourth quarter.
As was the case in the first meeting, the Purple Knights would take a fourth quarter lead on the Raiders, the only team to do so this season. St. Aug came up with a huge play defensively as Edward Gilds III intercepted a Wickersham pass to give St. Aug the ball at the Rummel 30-yard line.
Five plays later, Bailey scored on a 2-yard run to give the Purple Knights a 34-28 lead with 9:03 to play but the kick for the extra point was missed and it would prove decisive.
Trying to run the clock out, St. Augustine made a first down but a chop block penalty set the Purple Knights back, forcing a punt, setting the stage for the winning drive.
Wickersham finished 13-of-23 for 130 yards and two touchdowns with an interception and he rushed six times for 12 yards. Diggs finished with 16 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown. Wilwright IV had three catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.
“Koy gets a lot of attention so Ivory gets a lot of balls thrown his way and he made some plays tonight,” Monica said. “It didn’t feel like a win in the locker room if you ask the guys but you’ve got to give St. Aug credit. I thought they had a good plan and they are great football team. They didn’t do anything to beat themselves.”
Sampson completed 9-of-22 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions and he rushed nine times for 62 yards. Bailey rushed 20 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Walters had three catches for 59 yards and two scores.
Rummel (11-0) face the winner No. 4 Brother Martin next Friday night. The Crusaders smashed No. 5 Scotlandville 46-13. The Raiders shutout the Crusaders 30-0 on Oct. 12 and the two rivals will meet for the second straight year in the playoffs after squaring off in the regular season.
“You get tired of playing the same teams over and over again but it is what it is,” Monica said. “You’ve got to line up and play and prepare better than we did this week.”
RUM 14 0 14 7 35
SA 0 8 20 6 34
RUM—Jaelen Sturgis, 1-yard run (Patrick Vanderbrook kick)
RUM—Logan Diggs, 32-yard run (Patrick Vanderbrook kick)
SA—Jaheim Walters, 25-yard pass from Kendell Sampson (Justin Doyle run)
RUM—Tyler Cook, 6-yard pass from Kyle Wickersham (Patrick Vanderbrook kick)
SA—Mahmound Bailey, 1-yard run (Mahmoud Bailey run)
SA—Jaheim Walters, 26-yard pass from Kendell Sampson (run failed)
RUM—Donovan Kaufman, 62-yard run (Patrick Vanderbrook kick)
SA—Mahmoud Bailey, 2-yard run (pass failed)
SA—Mahmoud Bailey, 2-yard run (kick failed)
RUM—Ivory Wilwright IV, 11-yard pass from Kyle Wickersham (Patrick Vanderbrook kick)
Rushing Yards: RUM 181, SA 190
Passing Yards: RUM 130, SA 168
Total Yards: RUM 311, SA 358
Sacks: RUM 0, SA 3
Turnovers: RUM 1, SA 2
Penalties: RUM 7 for 62 yards, SA 5 for 41 yards
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…