SKYLAND — Chris Barnwell started the season as Roberson’s quarterback but now looks very comfortable as a running back for the Rams.
Still, he used his throwing arm to help turn around the game against McDowell Friday night.
Early in the fourth quarter with the scored tied at 14, Barnwell took the ball from quarterback Eric Robinson and started running to his left. He stopped and lofted the ball to receiver Denzel Summey about 25 yards downfield.
Summey made the catch and then ran the rest of the way to complete a 67-yard touchdown play that broke a tie and helped the Rams to a 28-14 win over the Titans in the Mountain Athletic Conference opener between the league’s only 4-A schools.
“We’ve been working on some plays to try and trick the defense,” said Barnwell, a senior, who also scored on an 18-yard run.
“That’s something we can definitely use. It was a little sweep. The defense bit on it and left the receiver open. That’s what happened.”
Summey, also a senior, was thrilled when the play was called.
“We’ve been working on it all week,” he said. “To actually have a chance to run it in the game was great. We executed it perfectly. It meant a lot to me to be able to score my first touchdown of the season like that.”
The Rams went 1-4 in their nonconference games, partly because they missed some key players along the way. Barnwell suffered a concussion against Freedom two weeks ago and missed last week’s game. Junior running back Dez Moorman suffered a concussion on Sept. 4 and missed the following two games before making his return Friday.
And it was a productive one. He scored on a 15-yard run in the second quarter and then sealed the win with a 25-yard scoring run late in the game.
Moorman finished with 85 yards on 13 carries while Barnwell picked up 108 yards on 13 rushing attempts.
“It beat me down being on the sidelines,” said Moorman.
He came back in a big way, helping his team win the MAC opener and giving his team the early edge for the MAC’s top seed in either the 4-A or 4-AA playoffs.
“This really was a good start,” he said. “It feels amazing.”
Roberson coach Chris Deal was pleased to open conference play with a win after losing four of the first five games. The Rams improved to 9-0 against McDowell.
“We’re 1-0, that’s what matters. It’s a new season,” Deal said. “We definitely didn’t expect to start 1-4; we didn’t script it that way. But it’s over.”
The Roberson defense played well, intercepting five passes from McDowell quarterback Casey Ray, who threw two touchdown passes but completed just 10 of 30 attempts for 83 yards.
“Roberson did a good job up front, they played hard,” said Titans coach Carson Gowan, whose team dropped to 3-3.
“We’re not taking anything away from them, but that’s where we went wrong, our inability to rush the football.”