Story and Photos by ANDREW DYRDAL
Father Ryan held their opponent’s star running back in check all night on Friday, until, trailing by a field goal midway through the fourth quarter, Montgomery Bell Academy faced its most important drive of the season.
Down 10-7 with less than eight minutes remaining, MBA’s Ty Chandler, a Tennessee commit, rushed for five yards… and then four. On third-and-one, Chandler broke loose for the first time on a 62-yard touchdown to give MBA a sudden 14-10 lead and all the momentum.
Father Ryan, which had punted only twice all night, went three-and-out on its next possession and opted to punt on fourth-and-two from its own 28 with five minutes and 50 seconds left.
Father Ryan needed a defensive stop but MBA secured three first downs on their next five plays and rode Chandler into the end zone after runs of 20 and 29 yards. Chandler’s third touchdown – and his second in 5:15 – sealed the comeback win for MBA.
MBA fed the ball to Chandler often from the start, handing off to him on the game’s first six plays. Chandler’s longest run of the first half was 12 yards and Father Ryan held him to just 54 yards and 3.4 yards per carry before the break.
The second half – and particularly the fourth quarter – was a different story. Chandler rushed nine times for 138 yards and 15.3 YPC, including his momentum-shifting 62-yard score.
“That’s the thing about a guy like that and a team like this — you can fight and fight and fight and fight and that superstar stud gets out and it’s over,” Father Ryan coach Brian Rector said. “We’re certainly not happy with that and it’s hard to talk your kids down from it, but at the end of the day I’m really proud of them.”
Father Ryan didn’t have the highlight-reel scoring plays like MBA, but but grinded out long scoring drives, keeping Chandler off the field, and converting regularly on third and fourth down.
Rector praised quarterback Jay Shoop for his ability to convert on the important plays, often improvising after being flushed out of the pocket.
“That kid’s heart is so big I’m surprised it can fit in his body,” he said. “That kid fought, he believed, and he led, and that was a sweet thing to see.”
After punting on its first possession, Father Ryan put together a 14-play, 72-yard scoring drive that ended in a four-yard touchdown reception by Nick Krumnauer.
MBA responded with 15-play drive that spanned nearly nine minutes and tied the game on a Chandler one-yard touchdown run just before halftime.
Father Ryan returned the second half kickoff and converted a third and fourth down before settling for a 43-yard field goal to go ahead 10-7 with 5:01 left in the third quarter.
Father Ryan followed the score up with another strong defensive stand, forcing MBA to punt on fourth-and-30, but weren’t able to extend their lead before MBA scored consecutive touchdowns.