“You can’t win a game if you don’t score any points.”
Those are the words of the illustrious NFL legend John Madden, and Rummel has taken that philosophy to heart.
The Raider defense put forth another dominant effort Saturday at Joe Yenni Stadium forcing seven turnovers in a 41-0 non-district win over Ruston.
Rummel’s offense also wasn’t too shabby putting up five touchdowns of their own, but even without their contributions, the Raiders still would have won 7-0.
“It all starts at practice,” said Vanderbilt safety commitment Donovan Kaufman, who had a 55-yard pick-6 late in the second quarter that put Rummel ahead 28-0 going into halftime. “We practice really hard and this is the fourth week, fifth week if you count (the jamboree against) St. Paul’s, that nobody has scored (a touchdown) on us yet, and we plan on nobody scoring on us the whole season.”
Through four games against Charlotte Catholic (NC), Slidell, Oak Grove (MS) and now Ruston (1-2), the Raiders have given up a total of six points, and each game prior to Saturday was played on the road.
Rummel (4-0) surrendered just 164 total yards to the visiting Bearcats and wasted little time asserting their dominance with Southern commitment Aaron Thomas intercepting a pass on Ruston’s second drive of the game after a 3-and-out on drive No. 1.
The Raiders immediately turned that takeaway into points on the first play of the drive when junior Kyle Wickersham hit senior receiver Ivory Wilright from 24 yards out, which was the first seven of 21 points scored off a turnover.
The reception pushed Rummel’s lead to 14-0 with 3:18 left in the first, and Wickersham and Wilright also hooked up for the Raiders’ first touchdown on a 17-yard connection that ended a 10-play, 43-yard drive.
It was the start of a big day for Wickersham, who finished 11-of-19 for 125 yards with three scores while rushing for two more touchdowns.
“Kyle probably played his best game on offense sticking some balls in there and we had some great catches on the receiving end too,” Rummel coach Nick Monica said. “(Wickersham) looked more comfortable out there and he’s still learning, it’s only his fourth game starting a varsity football game.”
“It’s all about our confidence level,” Wickersham added. “I didn’t make the plays all the time (in the past) and it was always one person was making a mistake. Today, everyone did their part on that play and that’s why we were able to move the ball.”
Monica also pointed to the Raiders’ running game as key to Wickersham’s success on the day. Junior Logan Diggs rushed for 100 yards on 16 carries while senior Jaelen Sturgis had 11 totes for 66 yards, 41 of which came a couple of drives after Wilright’s second touchdown.
The big run got Rummel to Ruston’s 16-yard line and Wickersham later powered his way in from one yard out on fourth down to finish off an 8-play, 67-yard drive for a 21-0 lead midway through the second.
The Raider defense then continued its dominance with interceptions on three consecutive drives by Quinton Cage, Kaufman and Malik Woodery. Nicholls defensive back commitment Corey Smooth had the other first-half takeaway for Rummel for a total of five turnovers in just the first half.
“I think we kept every record in school history and every stat possible except for turnovers,” said Monica, who wasn’t sure if Rummel’s seven total takeaways was a school record. “Maybe we need to start a new column but it’s got to be up there.”
The defense continued its stingy ways forcing a punt to start the second half, and Rummel marched 89 yards in 12 plays on its first possession of the half with Wickersham finding LSU commitment Koy Moore for an 8-yard touchdown reception.
Wickersham later scored his last touchdown on a 12-yard run after unexpectedly pulling the ball from his running back’s gut on a read-option play.
“I saw (the defensive end) slant in and I’m like ‘oh man, our running back is going to get killed if I don’t pull this,’” Wickersham explained. “No one was expecting it because no one ran after me. I ran into the end zone and they were still going after the running back.”
The ensuing PAT was blocked as was an earlier field goal attempt for Rummel, but the Raiders still led 41-0 with 11:52 to go in the game. Ruston threatened on the next drive getting all the way to Rummel’s 9-yard line, but the Raiders’ second-teamers came up with a goal line stand to preserve the shutout.
Rummel’s starters also came up with two more turnovers in the second half with Thomas and Woodery both recovering fumbles. It was a rough day for the Shreveport-Based Bearcats who were shutout after averaging 29.7 points through their first three games.
They did find a bit of success on the ground at times with junior Ketravion Hargrove rushing 13 times for 93 yards, but turnovers doomed any prolonged success.
“They’re a really good football team and you can’t turn the ball over I don’t know how many times, I lost track of it,” Ruston coach Jerrod Baugh said. “(Rummel’s defense) is the best one we’ve seen this year for sure and it compares with a lot of good defenses like West Monroe’s in the past and some of those teams that we’ve played…I expect for them to go a long way.”
Ruston: 164 yards of total offense (152 rushing, 12 passing)
Rummel: 338 yards of total offense (213 rushing, 125 passing)
Rushing: Ketravion Hargrove, 13-93; Devian Wilson, 7-41; Deontre Griffin, 12-22; #22, 4-1; Jaden Procell, 1-0; Marcus Harris, 1-(-5).
Receiving: Ketravion Hargrove, 1-7; Camdyn Crowe, 1-4; Devian Wilson, 1-1.
Passing: Jaden Procell, 2-10, 11 yards, 0 TDs, 5 INTs; #22, 1/4, 1 yard, 0 TDs, 0 INTs.
Rushing: Logan Diggs, 16-100; Jaelen Sturgis, 11-66; Daniel Sabido, 5-33; Corey Smooth, 1-7; Kyle Wickersham, 4-5, 2 TDs; Logan Bertucci, 4-2.
Receiving: Ivory Wilright, 4-76, 2 TDs; Keith Robertson, 2-16; Koy Moore, 2-15, 1 TD; Tyronne Hayes, 1-10; Tyler Cook, 1-6; Jaelen Sturgis, 1-2.
Passing: Kyle Wickersham, 11-19, 125 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs.
Rummel — Ivory Wilright 17 pass from Kyle Wickersham (Patrick Vanderbrook kick), 4:09, 0-7.
Rummel — Wilright 24 pass from Wickersham (Vanderbrook kick), 3:18, 0-14.
Rummel — Wickersham 1 run (Vanderbrook kick), 5:57, 0-21.
Rummel — Donovan Kaufman 55 interception return (Vanderbrook kick), 1:36, 0-28.
Rummel — Koy Moore 8 pass from Wickersham (Vanderbrook kick), 3:21, 0-35.
Rummel — Wickersham 12 run (kick blocked), 11:52, 0-41.
NEXT UP: Rummel begins Catholic League play hosting Shaw Saturday at 7 p.m. at Joe Yenni Stadium. Ruston will return home to host Woodlawn-Shreveport Friday at 7 p.m.