Ground down by Robinson Secondary Schools relentless running game, the T.C. Williams Titans found themselves surrendering an early lead and facing their second consecutive loss of the young season.
Senior center Aaron Tovsky, like many of his teammates, was as grim as the overcast and chilly weather after the 27-13 defeat September 17. There was no easy explanation for the loss.
We just didnt make the plays you have to make, he said. It really comes down to making plays. Weve got to start looking inward and decide if we want to win these games.
The Titans were riding high after scoring on the games opening play. A timely Robinson fumble put junior quarterback Alec Grosser back on the field long enough to connect with tight end Jamal Williams in the end zone.
Undaunted by the 13-0 deficit, the Rams leaned heavily on their ground game, churning out three- or four-yard runs to march steadily down the field, seemingly unopposed.
Robinson, which came into the game 0-2, would take the lead early in the second quarter after running back Tyrek Worrell broke free for a 61-yard touchdown run. Heading into the locker room for the halftime break, the Rams enjoyed a 21-13 lead.
As the Titans struggled to put together a comeback, the squad was hamstrung by sloppy penalties and an inability to capitalize on the Robinsons mistakes. T.C. head coach Dennis Randolph was incredulous.
They had three drives when they marched down field and scored, he said. We didnt stop them at all. Thats a lot of free yardage. Thats ridiculous.
Robinson stuck doggedly to the ground game. Rams quarterback Michael Hugney didnt throw the ball until midway through the second quarter. His next pass, minutes into the second half, connected with tight end Nate Foote to put the Rams up 27-13.
While the Rams enjoyed success with the run and occasionally in the air, Grosser fought to get the Titans offense running on all cylinders. Despite showing moments of brilliance Grosser found wideout Landon Moss for big gains they fell short time and again.
Afterward, Grosser was candid about the miscues.
The good teams, they discipline themselves and stop making mistakes, he said. I think in the first couple of series we caught them off guard, but it wasnt the game we wanted.
Moss chalked it up to lack of focus.
When we needed it most, we just lost our focus, he said. We just have to come together and stop [playing as] individuals.
Randolph described it as a team-wide problem. With the pressure on, the Titans couldnt get the run going, couldnt play their kind of football, he said. And the penalties didnt help.
You cant go up 13 points and then let teams drive on you, he said. Its all about confidence. Its fourth down and [the defense] gets [the stop] and theres another penalty. Thats all about confidence.
The home opener defeat puts the Titans at 1-2 on the season. After whipping Wakefield to start the season, T.C. fell 28-13 to Westfield. Now the Titans head to Lorton to take on the winless South County Stallions.
Theyre ready to put the loss behind them and move on, Grosser said. You have to have a short memory, the junior said.
Well get out next week and do it, Grosser said.