ALBANY -- After last week’s win over Independence, Albany coach Mike Janis said he’s still waiting for running back Rhett Wolfe to fully grasp the team’s new offensive scheme.
The young back's learning curve may have changed a bit.
Wolfe rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns, while fellow running back Justin Parrish added 178 yards and three touchdowns as Albany defeated Springfield 44-20 to win the Battle of I-12 on Friday at Jessie Fletcher Memorial Stadium.
“He looked really good running the ball,” Janis said of Wolfe. “...It just looked like as the game went on, he got more and more comfortable running it and he could see the lanes and show that explosive speed that he’s got.”
On the other end, Springfield head coach Ryan Serpas had mixed emotions about the game.
“It just a disappointing effort overall because it’s a team loss,” said Serpas, after the Bulldogs unveiled some passing elements to their offense in falling to 2-1. "There were signs of good things happening. We’ll just try to build off of those good things and try to fix the bad things and get ready to go into district.”
There wasn’t anything fancy for either team early as Springfield had just one possession in the first quarter after the start of the game was delayed 55 minutes by lightning.
Albany (3-0) went 19 plays on its first drive, which was capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Parrish. The key play was a running into the kicker call against the Bulldogs on 4th-and-3 at the Albany 49.
Akwun Seals broke a 16-yard run and Wolfe had a 12-yard run -- both on third down – to set up Parrish’s first TD scamper of the night for a 7-0 lead with 10:56 to go in the first half.
After forcing a Springfield punt, Albany went back to work on another scoring drive. Parrish broke an 11-yard run and caught a 21-yard pass from Jae Jae Doherty, while Seals broke a 10-yard run to get the Hornets to the Springfield 17.
Three plays later, Parrish scored from three yards out. After the Bulldogs were hit with consecutive offside penalties, the Hornets went for two, but Parrish was stuffed, giving the Hornets a 13-0 lead with 7:20 to play in the first half.
After another Springfield punt, Wolfe had a 42-yard run to help set up Pineda’s 27-yard field goal for a 16-0 lead with 1:29 to play in the first half.
It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to get into the scoring column as John’L Fryson, who had just two carries in the first half, busted a 72-yard run along the right sideline to make the score 16-6 with 58.9 seconds to go before halftime.
“I think we only had nine offensive plays in the first half, so that was not by design,” Serpas said of Fryson’s workload in the first half, saying he was used as a decoy early in the game. “Their offense stayed on the field. Our defense didn’t play too great all night long, and they had long drives.
"That’s a killer for any offense.”
Fryson finished with 73 yards on seven carries.
Albany got the ball to start the second half and put together another scoring drive. The Hornets went 60 yards in six plays, capped by a nifty 12-yard TD run by Wolfe, who cut straight toward the end zone and broke left to outrun the defense. Pineda’s PAT made the score 23-6.
Springfield answered when Wild found a wide-open Cameron Bonura on a 44-yard TD pass to make the score 23-13.
“I wasn’t expecting it at first, because one of the other guys hit me in the process and messed up my route but eventually came to me and I looked, and I was open, and I ran,” Bonura said of the touchdown.
“We realized we had to play a little closer,” Albany defensive back Dae Dae Doherty said of defending the Bulldogs’ passing game. “We played deep to open up everybody else to make tackles on the run. We realized that they were trying to run short routes, so we just came up, made adjustments and came out with the win.”
The Hornets countered as Wolfe broke a 68-yard TD run down the right sideline on the next drive for a 30-13 lead.
Wild and Bonura connected again on a 12-yard TD pass on the Bulldogs’ next drive, which was aided by a personal foul and an unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Hornets, which cut the lead to 30-20.
“I feel like it opens up a lot of opportunities to spread the field out and get more yards,” Wild said of the Bulldogs’ passing game after going 8-for-14 for 114 yards and a pair of TDs. “We’re not known for passing a lot, and being able to pass is something that’s key for us in this offense that we’ve now installed. Hopefully it works out more in the future.”
Wolfe added a 6-yard TD run, and Parrish busted a 54-yard TD run to cap the scoring.
“He (Parrish) worked through cramps the whole game, but he didn’t want to come out,” Janis said of Parrish. “He is a fighter, and he wanted the ball and wanted to be on the field, and he earned his yards tonight.”
ALBANY 44, SPRINGFIELD 20
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Springfield 0 6 0 14 --20
Albany 0 16 7 21 -- 44
ALB – Justin Parrish 3 run (Orlando Pineda kick)
ALB – Parrish 3 run (run failed)
ALB – Pineda FG 27
SPR – John’L Fryson 82 run (run failed)
ALB – Rhett Wolfe 12 run (Pineda kick)
SPR – Cameron Bonura 44 pass from Zac Wild (Colten Davis kick)
ALB --- Wolfe 68 run (Pineda kick)
SPR – Bonura 16 pass from Wild (Davis kick)
ALB – Wolfe 6 run (Davis kick)
ALB – Parrish 54 run (Pineda kick)
14 First downs 20
20-145 Rushes-yards 50-386
114 Passing yards 13
8-14-0 Passing (C-A-I) 3-5-0
3-28.6 Punts-avg. 1-35
1-0 Fumbles-lost 2-0
9-61.25 Penalties-yards 9-95