MAYVILLE - If gluttony is one of the Seven Deadly Sins in life, it can be a cardinal virtue on the football field. And on Friday evening, as an intermittent grey fog rolled over the hills and enveloped the field, Randolph was exceedingly virtuous.
Behind a solid rushing attack, the Cardinals ate, or better, devoured clock and yardage like it was the third Thursday in November during their Class D battle with host Chautauqua Lake on the way to a convincing, 35-6 victory.
Three of the visitor's five scoring drives went for at least seven plays while eating up an average of four minutes, and though they failed to score on their final drive of the evening, it nevertheless spanned 15 plays, went 85 yards and gulped down a whopping 10 minutes of the fourth quarter - exactly what's needed when your team has a 29-point edge and is looking to bring a swift end to the contest.
Randolph, as has been typical over coach Pat Slater's three-plus decades at the helm, seems to be hitting its peak at just the right point of the season.
"We're getting better,"Slater said. "The kids are doing some good things and we're getting better. They played hard tonight, and that's all you can ask for. We'll get the film out (later), but I'm very happy right now."
The victory was the Cardinals' (4-2) third in a row and moved them into second place in Class D, a pair of games behind still-unbeaten Maple Grove. Chautauqua Lake (4-2), meanwhile, has lost two of its last three games.
Crucial to the Cardinals' clock-gorging play was its ability to run the football.
Led by Jordan Dowiasz, who racked up 168 yards on 16 carries in the first half alone, Randolph ran the ball a grand total of 43 times, gaining 380 yards (that's a nearly 9-yard average) and scoring four touchdowns.
After having their opening drive halted at the Chautauqua Lake 19, the Cardinals bounced back on their second possession as Dowiasz capped an eight-play, 60-yard drive from nine yards out to put his squad ahead, 7-6. On the ensuing possession, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior running back took an off-tackle run 75 yards to paydirt and, following Micah Kehoe's second point-after (he had five in the game), Randolph led 14-6.
Dowiasz would score once more in the third period - a 20-yarder that increased the advantage to 28-6 - and finished with 244 yards on 19 rushes.
Behind their leading rusher, Jared Pitchford piled up 97 yards and a touchdown and Alex Miinte had 39 yards on eight carries.
"It's what we like to do," Slater said of the Randolph rushing attack. "We're always going to try and run it. The line did a great job (tonight) of picking up guys, our backs are coming along and we're blocking better. All of our kids are picking up their assignments and we're not having the same kinds of mental mistakes that we had (earlier in the season)."
With the running game drawing extra men to the line of scrimmage, quarterback Mitch Maycock found room to throw down the field. He needed to make just three passes (all completions), one of which was a 24-yard touchdown pass late in the first half to Nathan Beaver that gave Randolph a 21-6 lead at the break.
With Randolph moving down the field and running time, Chautauqua Lake had trouble getting its usually solid ground game - it had averaged over 240 yards per contest - going. The Thunderbirds' highlight came on their second play of the opening quarter when quarterback Jeremiah Russin hit receiver Ryan Miller down the left sideline for a 95-yard score.
The Cardinals buckled down from there, however, and allowed just four more completions the rest of the way while holding the hosts, through the first three quarters, to minus-one rushing yard.
"They were good," Thunderbirds coach Dan Greco said. "They played at a level that we didn't play at tonight, on both sides of the ball. This is the second time this has happened, and I told (the team) that we just didn't rise to their level. We did not meet their intensity, we did not meet their aggressiveness and they were simply better."