Randolph began the game with an opportunity to get on the board when they had first-and-goal on the 8-yard line, courtesy of a 33-yard pass from Anthony Sofia to Ryan McDermott, who made a diving catch. Sparta’s defense held and a field goal attempt was blocked by Carter Sheridan.
There was no scoring until late in the first quarter when Sparta’s Austin Castorina blasted through the middle for a 25-yard touchdown, dragging a tackler and stretching out the ball on the goal line. But Randolph answered quickly when Sofia and McDermott connected again for an 80-yard touchdown.
After a Sparta punt, Randolph went in front on a 5-yard keeper by Sofia. Key plays on the drive were a 30-yard pass to Jake Flowers on the previous play and a 21-yard run by Sofia. Randolph made it 21-7 when Flowers returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown. Sparta narrowed the gap on a 19-yard Kenny Oelkers to Tyler Szabo pass, with Szabo making a diving catch. Randolph advanced, but McDermott fumbled on the 15-yard line after receiving a pass, with Sparta recovering and running out the the last minute of the half.
After a Sparta punt, Randolph went down the field and and scored on another Sofia to McDermott pass of six yards. The score was set on on a a 16-yard pass to Justin Townsend to make it first-and-goal on the four. Sparta did not help themselves on the drive with two 15-yard penalties. The conversion failed and Randolph was up, 27-14.
Sparta came back in the fourth quarter on a 17-yard score from Oelkers to Castorina down the left sideline, a play where Castorina juggled the ball and held on to make the catch. and it was 27-21 with eight minutes left in the game. After the teams exchanged possessions, Randolph had the ball on their own 40 with over three minutes left. Sofia had runs of 16 and 20 yards, the latter featuring Sofia in a scrum that pushed the ball the final ten yards. Sofia then went around the right side for a 14-yard touchdown, racing past the right pylon with just over a minute left.
Randolph proved to many, myself included, that they are for real. Sofia is a very good quarterback who can hurt an opponent running or passing. McDermott and Flowers made some fine receptions and the team will have to be reckoned with come playoff time. They have two tough game coming up before the playoffs in 6-1 Morris Hills and 7-0 Ramapo, which can only help them.
For Sparta, Castorina is one tough runner. Built like a bowling ball, he does not shy away from contact and was a catalyst for his team.
Randolph lineman Ryan Knox – “We played well as a team and we played physical. We passed a big test today and showed people we’re for real.”
Randolph quarterback Anthony Sofia – It was a great win; the last two years Sparta pounded us. I was confident when I ran that I could beat them outside and I took advantage of my speed.”
Randolph Head Coach Will Nahan – “We have a great group of kids and they showed it today. We have some outstanding leaders and many teams have the coaches lead, but great teams have the players lead.”