ROME — Thomas R. Proctor High School’s football team survived an opening-night scare — make that two scares.
After losing 21-0 and 28-6 leads and then all-state running back Jamarious Morgan for much of the fourth quarter, the Raiders regained the lead on Morgan’s touchdown run with 2 minutes, 35 seconds remaining and then held on for a 35-32 nonleague victory over longtime rival Rome Free Academy in a Section III Class AA crossover that had RFA Stadium fans on their feet for the last two minutes Friday night.
Renewing a rivalry that started in 1891 — making it the oldest in the state and one of the oldest in the country — Proctor needed a last-minute defensive stand at its own 19-yard line, and the outcome was in doubt until a fourth straight incomplete pass from RFA quarterback Tristan Hunzinger glanced off receiver Ethan Powell’s hands in the end zone with 24.1 seconds remaining.
Hunzinger’s third touchdown pass of the night, and second to tight end Dylan O’Connell, started RFA’s second-half comeback. A fumble recovery by Ja-Quan Rollins then led to RFA fullback Remmy Edwards’ 67-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Moments later, with the Raiders clinging to a 28-26 lead, Morgan was carried off the field with a leg injury with 11:38 left, and after marching to RFA’s 11 without him, Proctor stalled and Rollins broke tackle after tackle and scored on a 69-yard scamper to give the Black Knights a 32-28 lead with 6:14 remaining.
Morgan finally returned, but it was teammates Eric Gohringer and Jalen Woodson who got the Raiders close, and then Logan Wilcox’s 14-yard pass to Nick Abraham on third-and-9 that set up Morgan’s winning 3-yard score.
RFA made sure Morgan didn’t run wild — he was held to 33 yards on 15 carries — but Abraham rushed for 149 yards on nine carries, including 83- and 15-yard scores, Gohringer added 106 yards on 15 carries, and Woodson ran for 52 yards and a touchdown on five carries.
Wilcox completed 9 of 18 passes for 178 yards, including a 68-yard score on a screen pass to Morgan, who finished with four catches for 128 yards.
Hunzinger finished 11-for-18 for 198 yards and three touchdowns, including a 79-yarder to Powell.
Rollins rushed for 164 yards on 20 carries and Edwards ran for 108 yards on five carries for the Black Knights, who fumbled away the opening series on Proctor’s 1-yard line — Todd Manolescu made the recovery — and then allowed Proctor to score on its first four possessions.
Proctor 35, RFA 32
Proctor 14-14-0-7 -- 35
RFA 0-12-8-12 -- 32
P – Nick Abraham 83 run (Abraham kick).
P – Jalen Woodson 6 run (Abraham kick).
P – Jamarious Morgan 68 pass from Logan Wilcox (Abraham kick).
RFA – Dylan O’Connell 12 pass from Tristan Hunzinger (pass failed).
P – Abraham 15 run (Abraham kick).
RFA – Ethan Powell 79 pass from Hunzinger (pass failed).
RFA – O’Connell 18 pass from Hunzinger (O’Connell pass from Hunzinger).
RFA – Remmy Edwards 67 run (pass failed).
RFA – Ja-Quan Rollins 69 run (run failed).
P – Morgan 3 run (Abraham kick).