Northwestern High's biggest mistake against host Edmondson yesterday in their showdown for first place in the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference may have been stopping the Redskins' running game.
By doing so, Northwestern left Edmondson no choice but to go with its passing game, which Northwestern couldn't stop, particularly split end Sean Robinson.
Robinson caught seven passes for 160 yards, four touchdowns and a conversion as the Redskins (3-0, 3-0) wiped out an 8-0 second-quarter deficit and routed Northwestern, 36-8.
In all, Edmondson's passing game accounted for 222 yards and five touchdowns. Alternating quarterbacks Maurice Blanding and Michael Dawkins took turns picking apart Northwestern's secondary.
Blanding, a 6-foot-3 junior with a strong sidearm pass, completed six of nine for 139 yards, three touchdowns and a conversion. Dawkins, a senior, who started, completed four of five for 58 yards and a touchdown. Halfback Antwan Barmer even got into the act, completing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Robinson.
"I knew my receivers could take them one-on-one," said Blanding, who led the charge with two second-quarter touchdown passes as the Redskins rallied to build a 20-8 halftime lead. "I told Coach it was there and he said run the play. I really have to give it to our line. They blocked for me."
Both Edmondson quarterbacks got plenty of time to throw thanks to linemen Dante Barksdale, Corey Pompey, Milton Russell, Desmond Kennard, Melvin Humphries and tight end James Coombs.
Robinson, a 5-9, 140-pound senior who didn't play last season, was exceptional. The speedster outran defenders for two of his touchdowns and outleaped them on high passes for the other two.
"All year long he may have spoken three words," said Edmondson coach James James. "He's a quiet kid, but he gets the job done."
Nothing went right for Northwestern after the Wildcats took an 8-0 lead early in the second quarter on Kevin Ruff's touchdown run from the 1. Ruff sprained his right ankle on that play.
Ruff, a sophomore who entered the game with 286 yards rushing and four touchdowns, was hobbled the rest of the first half and did not play the second half.
"When we lose him, we lose multiple assets," said Northwestern coach Lynn Badham. "We lose a running back, a defensive back, a cornerback, a punt returner and a kickoff returner. Kevin Ruff was really everything we had. We could rely on him to bring the bacon home."
After taking its 8-0 lead, Northwestern (2-1, 2-1) managed 23 yards total offense the remainder of the game. Ruff had rushed for 29 yards on seven carries before getting injured.
Ruff was not the only Wildcat to leave the game with an injury. Starters Kevin Smith, a linebacker, and Keenan Mathaw, a two-way lineman, also were knocked out of action. The Wildcats only have a roster of 23. After Ruff went down, Badham was forced to use running back Arnold Smith, who came into the game with a sore ankle.
"I didn't want to use him [Smith] today because he was sore. We're not out of it, but right now we have a lot of nagging injuries," said Badham. "We've got to go back and see if we can regroup and be ready to play Southern next week."
Edmondson's next stop is Patterson (Friday) and another showdown for first place against the Clippers (4-0, 2-0), the conference favorites.