Rose Bud controlled the line of scrimmage, roughing up Conway Christian on both sides of the ball, especially on third and fourth down situations to prevail 28-14 on Friday night.
Junior running back Caleb Ferren was spectacular, rushing for 312 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
Ferren stepped into the backfield in place of standout senior running back Cole Robertson, who broke his arm in the first half against Marshall in Week 2, and the speedy junior ran for just under 200 yards.
Behind a strong effort from the offensive line, Ferren picked up where he left off against Conway Christian, torching the Eagles while steering the Ramblers to their second consecutive victory.
“We've always known Caleb Ferren was a player and we've tried to use him in other ways when we had Cole because Cole is more of a guy you bang it up the middle with,” said Rose Bud Coach Steve Rose. “Ferren is that change of speed guy. He hits a crease and he is gone because he can run. We immediately knew he was our guy [after Robertson's injury] and he has stepped forward and ran for 500 yards in two weeks.”
Ferren broke loose for a combined 81 yards on fourth and short situations, including a 51-yard touchdown. “He stayed in the pile on fourth and one, he stayed in there trusted it and popped out the backdoor and he was gone. It was a good run, he did it perfect, textbook,” said Rose.
Rose Bud jumped out to a 7-0 lead when junior quarterback Andrew Adcock lofted a perfect throw deep down the right sideline, where junior receiver Blake Ferrell reeled in a 29-yard touchdown reception with a defender tight on his heels near the pylon.
The Ramblers' 9-play, 72-yard scoring drive included a 17-yard scamper by Ferren, who cutback over left side to avoid a mass of bodies at the line of scrimmage. Jesus Estrada added the PAT, giving Rose Bud a 7-0 lead with 3:25 remaining in the first quarter.
On the first play of its fifth offensive series, Rose Bud struck again on a 70-yard touchdown run by Ferren, who patiently waited until a hole opened then burst past the second level untouched and outran the Eagles' secondary to pay dirt. Estrada's PAT pushed Rose Bud's lead to 14-0 with 4:15 remaining in the first half.
Conway Christian (1-2) answered with two quick scores, first covering 58 yards in five plays. On third and 9, the Eagles moved the chains on a first down pass from quarterback Chandler Ferrand to receiver Clayton Dent, who turned up field for 34 yards deep into Rambler territory.
The Eagles scored on their next play when Ferrand connected with receiver Josiah Smith on a corner route for a 12-yard touchdown with 2:50 left in the second quarter. The Eagles' extra-point attempt clanged off the crossbar, leaving Rose Bud with a 14-6 lead.
Page 2 of 4 - Conway Christian scored again three plays later when Casey Roark picked off a screen pass and cruised nine yards into the end zone for a touchdown. Ferrand then threw a screen pass to Smith, who sidestepped and defender for two more points on the conversion, tying the score at 14-14 with 1:26 left until halftime.
Rose Bud fired back, quickly marching 79 yards in three plays to reclaim the lead. Adcock hit receiver Tyler Weatherly on a hitch for nine yards and then Adcock pumped faked and threw deep down left side to Ferrell, who made the catch in stride for 50 yards.
On first down, Adcock hit sophomore receiver Jake Cantey, who reversed field, reading his blocks to perfection while eluding a defender for a 19-yard touchdown with only 30 seconds left in the first half. Estada's extra-point attempt was off the mark, leaving the Ramblers with a 20-14 lead at halftime.
“It was very big. Obviously it was a momentum changer,” said Rose of the final drive of the first half. “We gave the momentum up there. The [coach] in the [press] box was telling me check it, check it because they had picked one off in Week 1 on the same play. I didn't call to check it quick enough and we bounced right back. That's the good part about being a spread team that's up-tempo because we can go fast too and it's a couple big plays and we are down the field and we can keep the pace. And we can play at a pace where we prefer to play at when we want to play a little slower.”
Cantey, who contributed two receptions for 30 yards with one touchdown and one two-point conversion, battled Adcock for the starting quarterback job in the preseason. Adcock was expected to help out at receiver when not playing quarterback, but the roles have reversed as the season progresses.
“He [Cantey] had 78 yards receiving last week,” said Rose. “Jake is a good athlete and he catches the ball. Here is the thing about Jake. He is smart. We had a good kid Devin Reed doing good in camp and he got hurt so we are short there so when the thing went down with Buzz (Robertson) the thing is Jake is a smart kid. Jake is a quarterback, he understand the offense and knows where the windows are.
“He has stepped in there and done a great job and he is athletic. That is the thing some people miss because he doesn't look like he runs as fast as he does and all of a sudden he squirts through and makes a long run. He has come through big for us and that is definitely a role we are going to keep developing as we go along,” added Rose.
Rose Bud stalled out at midfield on the first possession of the second half. After Conway Christian moved down to the Rambler 25, Rose Bud's defense stiffened with the help of Weatherley, who hammered a receiver coming across the middle at the goal-line to break up a potential touchdown. Senior cornerback Chris Henry and Weatherley teamed up to break up Ferrand's fourth and 10 pass play.
Page 3 of 4 - Only 2:04 later, Rose Bud doubled its lead, covering 75 yards in five plays, starting when Ferrell turned an option pitch from Adcock into 15 yards. Ferrell powered through defenders, carrying three to the 40.
Adcock's first down pass fell incomplete then Ferren carried twice for a net of nine yards, setting up fourth and short. That's when Ferren busted free for a 51-yard touchdown run in which he broke out of a scrum and raced to the end zone.
On the two point conversion, Adcock rolled right under heavy pressure and lobbed a pass to the back of the end zone, where Cantey pulled down a leaping grab as the Ramblers pushed their lead to 28-14 with 3:53 remaining in the third quarter.
Conway Christian's ensuing drive stalled out at the Rose Bud 39 and the Eagles' punt left the Ramblers with a first down at their own 7.
The Ramblers flipped field position on a 22-yard run by Ferren, who tossed defensive lineman Shawnell Gill aside, then sped around left end.
Facing a fourth and 3 from the Rose Bud 42, Adcock came up with a huge play by avoiding a sack and swinging the ball out to Henry, who turned up field for 15 yards into Eagle territory.
The Ramblers' drive stalled out when Conway Christian stacked up Ferren on a fourth and short, but Rose Bud's defense tightened after Conway Christian penetrated the red zone.
After the Eagles reached the Rose Bud 13 on a 6-yard keeper by Ferrand, Rose Bud's defense bowed up as Henry broke up a pass before a false start pushed the Eagles back.
Ferrand passed incomplete over the middle on third down. On fourth down with 7:47 left to play, the Ramblers flushed Ferrand out of the pocket and swallowed him up near the sideline, forcing a fumble, which senior defensive end Tristen Evans recovered at the Rambler 18.
On second and 12, Rose Bud essentially put the game out of reach when Ferren shed a tackler at the line of scrimmage, dodged another defender and raced over left side for 42 yards into Eagle territory.
Powerful senior running back Daniel Strain took over from there, pounding out 27 yards on four carries as the Ramblers chewed up the clock before stalling out at the Conway Christian 15.
Despite a soggy field drenched by several hours of rainfall, which cleared out 30 minutes before game time, the Ramblers played a solid, fundamental game. The Ramblers forced three turnovers and committed two.
“We are happy with the effort, happy with the O-line and happy with the way we threw the ball around. We had some slick balls that we didn't catch and they made some great plays to knock the ball down that we could've caught,” said Rose.
Adcock completed 10 of 23 pass attempts for 160 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Ferrell led the Ramblers' receiving corps with two receptions for 79 yards and one touchdown. Ferrell also ran four times for 29 yards, giving the junior 108 yards of total offense.
Page 4 of 4 - Senior linebacker Trey McCann and Henry each collected a team-high eight tackles for Rose Bud. Evans recovered two fumbles and senior defensive back Josh Pratt intercepted a pass.
Rose Bud (2-1) hosts Barton (3-0) Friday night in the 2-3A opener for both schools. The Bears smashed Clarendon 45-0 last week, blanked Des Arc 33-0 in Week 2 and defeated DeWitt 39-28 in Week 1.