Larry Washington provided the spark, Danial Dorsey picked up the slack and Ken Wesley completed the job in leading No. 2 Randallstown to a 22-14 victory over visiting No. 7 Westminster (2-1) yesterday.
The Rams' three running backs each played a role in helping coach John Buchheister notch his 100th career victory -- 97 of which came at Milford Mill, where he coached for 12 years -- with a win over his alma mater.
Randallstown (3-0) had difficulty getting its offense on track, trailing, 14-6, with 7 minutes, 32 seconds remaining in the third quarter. But when Washington (15 carries, 103 yards) broke a 28-yard run midway through the third quarter, it seemed to awaken the rest of the team.
Three plays later, Haryn Singleton scored on a 7-yard run, and Shaun Poulton's pass to Jerome Murray for the two-point conversion tied the game.
Washington, who has a pinched nerve in his neck, was the catalyst in the Rams' winning drive in the fourth quarter. His 17-yard run -- combined with a holding penalty against the Owls -- gave Randallstown the ball at Westminster's 17-yard line. One play later, Wesley scored on a 15-yard run with 4:36 left.
Wesley (nine carries, 44 yards), who has a slightly torn ligament in his left knee, did not play on offense in the first half. Dorsey (11 carries, 75 yards), who had seen limited playing time, was an adequate replacement, gaining 51 yards on six carries in the half.
"I was pleasantly surprised," Buchheister said of Dorsey's performance. "We had to use him with Wesley hurt. Heck, I'll keep running him now."
But when Randallstown needed that extra lift in the second half, Washington was there.
"Washington is the difference," Buchheister said. "We have guys that can spell him. Then he makes the big play."
Westminster could not make the big play.
The Owls failed to score on their first two possessions, despite moving the ball inside Randallstown's 20 both times.
"That sure didn't help," said Westminster coach Jeff Oeming. "We were really tentative and nervous coming in. They didn't shake it off until the second quarter."
The Rams struck first in the second quarter, taking a 6-0 lead on Dorsey's 6-yard run with 11:05 remaining. Washington's run for the two-point conversion failed.
Westminster tied the score on a 22-yard touchdown run by Mike Rodgers (21 carries, 140 yards) with 2:11 left in the second quarter, and Jason Stump's extra point gave the Owls a 7-6 lead.
The Owls recovered a Wesley fumble on the Rams' 25 early in the third quarter and took a 14-6 lead on Rodgers' 3-yard run and Stump's extra point.
Buchheister attributed his team's sluggish first half to insufficient practice time. Due to a Baltimore County rule, no practice was allowed Thursday because of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. Carroll County, where Westminster is located, has no such rule regarding Rosh Hashana.
"The first half was our Thursday practice," Buchheister said. "We only have about five Jewish kids, and if they want to miss practice because of their religion, that's fine. But it's unfair to the kids who aren't Jewish. The other 25 or so guys who aren't [Jewish] can't practice, either, and that's not fair to them."