RANDOLPH — Big plays on both sides of the football proved to be the difference in Randolph’s 34-22 non-conference win over visiting Cambridge Friday night.
The Rockets (4-0) had a 78-yard scoring pass, but returned both an interception and fumble for touchdowns handing the Blue Jays (2-2) their second loss in three weeks.
Cambridge took a 22-21 lead with 8 minutes, 27 seconds remaining when senior Ezra Stein drilled a 27-yard field goal. But the Rockets scored twice in the final minute to overcome the deficit.
“We had them, we should’ve won that football game,” said Cambridge head coach Mike Klingbeil.
Clinging to that one-point lead, the Blue Jays had the Rockets facing a 4th-and-25 from their own 27-yard line before giving up a 50-yard pass. Then, with 1:01 to play, Brayden Haffele scored on a 4-yard quarterback keeper to give the Rockets a 27-22 advantage, before Ben Schmucki picked up a fumble near midfield and raced 48 yards untouched for the clincher.
“Even after they scored we got the ball back and drove to about their 45, but then just sputtered it away,” said Klingbeil. “That second-and-long, we should’ve defended that play better and that would’ve been the game right there — we went from winning the game in the fourth quarter last week to losing the game in the fourth quarter this week — sometimes, that’s how it goes.”
The first half of the was a defensive battle as the two non-league opponents played to a 6-6 tie; Haffele scored from 3 yards out in the first quarter, while Stein crossed the goal line on a keeper of his own in the second quarter.
“Randolph’s a really good team and we played with them the entire game. I think we made huge steps and that’s encouraging,” Klingbeil said.
The lead changed hands five times in the second half. Cambridge got touchdown runs from seniors Trey Colts (25 yards) and Jacob Moody (23 yards), but Randolph came up with two momentous plays — a 25-yard interception return by Traiton Lininger anda 78-yard Jordan Tietz-to-Matt Dykstra pass — to take a 21-19 lead after three quarters.
Colts (19 carries, 83 yards) and Stein (12-76) led the Blue Jays’ 193-yard ground attack, while Stein completed 8-of-14 passes for 78 yards.
Junior defensive lineman Tucker Tesdal paced the CHS defense with eight tackles, while Stein and junior linebacker Austin Hughes made seven stops each. Hughes and junior linebacker Sully Schlieckau both intercepted passes.
The Blue Jays return home hosting Palmyra-Eagle on Friday, Oct. 23.
“We played some tough games, like Marshall in Week 2 and then Randolph, so our schedule eases off a bit now. However, we still need to come to play each and every week,” said Klingbeil.
Kickoff at Bob Nodolf Field is 7 p.m.
RANDOLPH 34, CAMBRIDGE 22
Cambridge 0 6 13 3 — 22
Randolph 6 0 15 13 — 34
Randolph — Haffele 3 run (run failed).
Cambridge — Stein 1 run (pass failed).
Cambridge — Colts 25 run (Stein kick).
Randolph — Lininger 25 interception return (Paul pass from Haffele).
Cambridge — Moody 23 run (pass failed).
Randolph — Dykstra 78 pass from Tietz (Alva kick).
Cambridge — FG, Stein, 27.
Randolph — Haffele 4 run (pass failed).
Randolph — Schumucki 48 fumble recovery (Alva kick).
First Downs — C 14, R 16. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — C 36-193, R 37-200. Passing Yards — C 82, R 192. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — C 8-14-1, R 6-11-2. Fumbles-lost — C 3-1, R 3-1. Penalties — C 4-32, R 6-50.
Rushing: C: Colts 19-83; R: Paul 12-88. Passing: C: Stein 8-14-1, 78; R: Haffele 6-12-2, 117. Receiving: C: Colts 2-26; R: Dykstra 2-92.