James Monroe quarterback Aidan Ryan gazed up at the homecoming crowd at Maury Stadium on Friday night and realized he needed to make a statement on the football field.
“It was homecoming, and I saw all of the seniors,” said Ryan after sparking the Yellow Jackets to a hard-earned 21–15 Battlefield District victory over Spotsylvania. “I just wanted to make everyone proud.”
The athletic junior definitely accomplished that and more against the Knights. He ran for 169 yards and a touchdown and also passed for 146 yards and a score as JM persevered and improved to 4–3, 2–1.
Ryan twice rallied the Jackets from deficits with touchdown drives to help JM overcome Spotsylvania’s late comeback bid and win its second game in a row. Last week, he scored on a 69-yard kickoff return to help JM rally past King George.
“We put the ball in our captain’s hands tonight,” Jackets coach Rich Serbay said. “When you want to win, you put the ball in your playmaker’s hands. He’s a phenomenal player.”
Ryan shared the spotlight with a gritty effort by the Jackets’ defense, which took its lumps against the Knights’ relentless single-wing attack, but came up big when it counted.
The Jackets stopped Spotsylvania (5–2, 2–1) on fourth down several times in the contest, but none was bigger than the last. Clinging to a six-point lead late in the fourth quarter, JM linebacker Joe Hardy intercepted Jake Naccarato’s pass at the Jackets’ 29 with two minutes left to help seal their victory.
“Our kids fought, but JM’s defense played a heck of a game,” Spotsylvania coach Jeremy Jack said. “They tackled hard and won the line of scrimmage. That’s the way the chips fall sometimes. We still have a lot of season left though.”
The Knights used a 16-play drive on their first possession of the game to grab an early 7–0 lead in the first quarter. Led by the bruising runs of Ty-Shaun Colbert, who rushed for 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the Knights churned out 270 yards on 58 attempts in the game.
“[Spotsylvania] has a great running game,” Serbay said. “We knew that was their strength and that we needed to get ahead of them to be able to win.”
JM tied the score early in the second quarter when Ryan broke free for a 36-yard gain to set up a 1-yard scamper by Jawuan Fountleroy. Ryan then put the Jackets in front with a 10-yard run after their defense stopped the Knights on fourth down.
After a scoreless third quarter, Spotsylvania put together another impressive scoring drive, this one covering 65 yards in 14 plays. Colbert burst into the end zone untouched from 15 yards out and the Knights led again, 15–14.
But JM’s quick-strike offense responded immediately. Ryan took the Jackets from their own 20 to the Spotsylvania 45 in three plays and then connected with Trevor Gleason for a 45-yard strike to put JM in front for good.
Play was stopped for about 20 minutes in the fourth quarter when Spotsylvania lineman Kyle Orris was taken off the field on a stretcher with an apparent leg injury. The extent of the injury was not known.
The Knights travel to Caroline on Friday for another Battlefield District game, while the Jackets visit Chancellor in search of their third straight victory.
Said Serbay: “2–0 is a winning streak and we’ll take it. This was a great win for us against a really good Spotsylvania team. I’m proud of my team and my program tonight.”
Sp—Ty-Shaun Colbert 1-yard run (Braden Knop kick).
JM—Jawuan Fauntleroy 1-yard run (Andrew Powell kick).
JM—Aidan Ryan 1-yard run (Andrew Powell kick).
Sp—Ty-Shaun Colbert 15-yard run (Ty-Shaun Colbert run).
JM—Trevor Gleason 45-yard pass from Aidan Ryan (Andrew Powell kick).
RUSHING: Spotsylvania—Ty-Shaun Colbert 29-114, 2TD; Jake Naccarato 12-47; DeAnthony Pendleton 12-86; Jacob Dingus 5-23. James Monroe—Aidan Ryan 18-169, TD; Jawuan Fauntleroy5-16, TD; Deonte Curry 1-0.
PASSING: Spotsylvania—Jake Naccarato 4-8-1, 26 yards. James Monroe—Aidan Ryan 6-13-0, 146 yards, TD.
RECEIVING: Spotsylvania—Ty-Shaun Colbert 3-20; Mathias Barnwell 1-6. James Monroe—Mac Holland 2-34; Jaquan Fauntleroy 2-33; Tyler Whitman 1-34; Trevor Gleason 1-45, TD.