SUCCASUNNA, N.J. – The Randolph football team knows a thing or two about bouncing back.
Perhaps that’s why it was no surprise to watch the Rams regroup after absorbing a halftime deficit and pound their way to a convincing 30-14 victory over rival Roxbury in a live-broadcast showdown on MSG Varsity iO Ch. 14 on Friday evening.
Senior Dom Capalbo, who won his first-ever game as the starting quarterback, accounted for two touchdowns and anchored a run in the second half that saw his team post 20 unanswered points after trailing by four at the half.
But again, this group is no stranger to shining in the heat of adversity. Last season, after falling flat in a season-opening setback to Paramus Catholic, the Rams picked themselves up and rattled off 11 straight victories en route to capturing the North 1 Group 4 title.
Though just two weeks old, this new campaign has presented head coach Joe Lusardi’s club with plenty of obstacles, as well. Randolph lost its Week-One matchup against Jefferson, 9-0, and then suffered a huge blow as star running back A.J. Garcia injured his ankle in the first quarter of this contest and did not return.
“We’re a family,” Capalbo said. “If one person goes down, the next one steps up. That’s us. That’s what we’re all about.”
Stuck in a 14-10 hole entering the third, Aaron Harris put the Rams back on top by three when he returned a 60-yard punt for a touchdown. In the fourth, the floodgates opened and the visiting team made a loud statement.
“They were blitzing a lot,” Capalbo said, “but I was able to find open receivers. To be here with everybody, it feels amazing.”
Such a rewarding feeling didn’t come easy, as both teams traded punches in a back-and-forth first half. Frank Raggo opened the scoring by converting a 30-yard field goal midway through the first to hand Randolph a slight edge, but Roxbury’s Donald Panciello recorded a 10-yard rushing score three minutes later.
After Harris caught a 25-yard touchdown to take a 10-7 lead three minutes into the second quarter, Mike Stormo hauled in a 10-yard scoring strike with 7:37 to go, giving the Gaels another cushion.
However, that was the final blemish for Randolph’s defensive unit, which held the opposition to just 69 passing yards.
Roxbury and Randolph account for the last two sectional championships, and the Rams are certain they have enough talent to make a legitimate repeat run. With a developing reputation of responding to obstacles, there’s no reason to bet against them.
Contact Brian Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter