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Xaverian finds W behind tank

Muhammad King carried two Fordham Prep players on his back as he crossed midfield, keeping his legs moving as he ran for a 23-yard gain. The sophomore running back had just finished off a scoring drive and was now helping Xaverian keep the ball out of the hands of Rams star Bruce Grant, who had just run a kickoff back for a touchdown to trim the lead to just one score late in the fourth quarter.

“He is a tank and he is going to keep moving the ball,” junior quarterback Greg Rando said. “Without him we wouldn’t have moved the chains. It could have been different.”

Added running back Tushaun Plummer: “He never stops. He’s a train.”

King ran for 38 yards on the final drive and 92 on 16 carries for the game as Xaverian held off Fordham for a 27-20 win in CHSFL ‘AAA’ football at Kings Bay on Friday night. He put the finishing touches on an impressive three-back ground attack. Freshman Zach Kearney rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and Plummer had a score on the ground and in the air. Kearney was brought up this week from the junior varsity as Xaverian was looking to pound the running game, liking the way it matched up against the Rams.

“These are young kids that we are asking to do things that seniors take pride in doing,” Xaverian coach Joe DeSiena said. “They are responding to it.”

Plummer had the Clippers’ first two scores, one on a 2-yard run and the second on a 20-yard pass from Rando to make it 14-6 with 53.5 seconds left in the first half. The touchdown reception came after Andrew Scholl recovered a fumbled punt on the Fordham Prep 48-yard line. The Clippers (2-0, 1-0 CHSFL ‘AAA’) also recovered a fumble by Grant, the first of two, on their own 10-yard line.

“The turnovers gave us a big morale boost,” Rando said. “There came a point where we didn’t know what to do anymore. The special teams gave us the ball back, gave us life.”

The energy carried into the second half as Kearney, who said he was nervous at first but settled down, ran the ball three straight times for a total of 34 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 21-6 with 5:16 left in the third quarter. His 40-yard run set up a short King score prior to Grant’s kickoff return. Grant ran for 89 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

“He is doing a good job for a freshman on varsity,” King said of Kearney. He is only 14.”

Fordham Prep (0-2, 0-1) felt it was prepared for the Clippers’ running attack, keeping it at bay for most of the first half. But the Rams fatigued a bit and didn’t respond when they made adjustments.

“It’s difficult when you see it in front of you and you know what is going on and you are making calls to try to blow it up and [Xaverian is] just executing,” Rams coach Pete Gorynski said.

Exactly as planned.

“That was the goal of the coaches,” DeSiena said. “To get the ball on the ground 30 times and make this game ugly.”

The result was anything but for Xaverian.

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