SILVER SPRING – The Rockville High School football team looked to end their season on a high note in a road game against Blake High School to take momentum heading into the 3A state playoffs.
The Rams displayed a dominant performance over the Bengals to earn a 22-6 win on Nov. 1. Rockville also clinched one of the top four seeds in the 3A West region, which entitled them a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
Rockville (7-2) came out of the gate firing on offense, with a strong opening drive that saw them chew up over five minutes of the game clock as quarterback Dylan Monday and led tailback Wesley Nchinda lead the way through the air and the ground. However, Blake’s defense came up with a huge fourth-down stand in the red zone, breaking up what could have been a potential touchdown pass.
Throughout the first half, Rockville consistently put together strong offensive possessions, but could not convert points. The Rams had a long drive which included a 30-yard pass completion from Monday to Nchinda and drove down to the 1-yard line, but Blake would hold once again. In another possession, Nchinda ran past the Blake defense for a 40-yard rushing touchdown but it was erased by a penalty.
“We didn’t really have a whole lot of discipline in the first half,” Rockville Head Coach Jason Lomax said. “We’ve got to eliminate the holding and the (other) penalties and we may have put some more points on the board, but at the end of the day, a win is a win.”
Meanwhile, Rockville’s defense dominated all game long. They scored the only points of the first half by forcing and recovering a fumble by Blake quarterback Isaiah Smith in the end zone, but a failed two-point conversion attempt kept the lead at 6-0.
Blake (5-4) had opportunities to score points in the first half, including Smith throwing a 64-yard pass to receiver Ahmedtejan Kallay that set them up in the red zone. However, the drive came up empty and Rockville took their six-point lead into the halftime break.
“I think we started off slow; we did not get all of the points that we wanted to in the first half,” Monday said. “But in the second half, we came out strong and we dominated.”
In the second half, Rockville’s offense began to pick up thanks to the play of Nchinda. The senior tailback, who finished with over 100 rushing yards and 70 receiving yards (and also had two touchdowns called back by flags), carried the Rams offense, including scoring the team’s first offensive touchdown in the third quarter. After a successful two-point conversion, Rockville held a two-touchdown lead.
“(Nchinda) is a beast, man,” Monday said of his teammate’s performance. “I always expect him to perform like that; that’s just who he is, and I’m glad that everybody got to see it today.”
Blake’s defense would not surrender and continued to keep the Silver Spring-based team in the game. During a crucial drive late in the fourth quarter, as the Rams looking to seal the deal, Monday fumbled the ball at the 3-yard line, and Bengals defensive end Teddy Tiokeng Djengue ran back the loose ball 97 yards for a touchdown, shrinking their deficit to eight points.
Rockville bounced back right away as Nchinda scored on a 33-yard touchdown run, erasing any chances of a Blake comeback attempt.
“We had to come back after our last two losses and make a statement that we’re no pushovers,” Nchinda said. “(Tonight) was a team effort.”
The Rams are very much aware of the fact that they left as many as four touchdowns on the field, Lomax said, which is attributed to a collection of penalties, turnovers and other drive-killers. It is certainly something they want to get cleaned up before the start of the state playoffs.
“It’s all about watching film, then going into practice to clean all that up,” Monday said.
The win over Blake puts Rockville as the No. 4 in the 3A West bracket, which means they will host No. 5 Watkins Mill on Nov. 8. As for their chances of making a run, Lomax referenced a recent championship winner as inspiration for his Rams.
“The sky is the limit for this team,” Lomax said, “if the Washington Nationals can win a World Series, we can do anything.”