The deficit was double-digits and the game was less than six minutes old. A change in momentum was needed if Benilde-St. Margaret’s was going to avoid a long, depressing night.
It was Ricky time.
Ricky Floyd, the Red Knights’ electric tailback, broke off one of his trademark long runs, going 81 yards for a touchdown, cutting Marshall’s lead to 13-7. Benilde-St. Margaret’s came out of its early funk and went on to defeat the previously undefeated Tigers 44-34 in the Class 4A semifinals.
“I knew we needed a spark or something,” the fleet Floyd said. “I know it’s my job to get that.”
Floyd’s long run was only a portion of his big game. He added scoring runs of 51 and 34 yards and finished with 273 yards rushing. “The offensive line did a great job of giving me those small holes and I just took advantage,” he said.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s offensive lineman Eric Wilson said those small holes come with a big helping of gratitude.
“With Ricky, there’s the chance he’s going to break one,” Wilson said. “We can mess up as much as we do and he’ll find a cutback lane. Without him, we probably wouldn’t have made it out of the section.”
While Floyd was the star of the game, he had plenty of help. After Marshall had tied the game 21-21, receiver Payton James pilfered the Tigers’ good feeling with a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Tied 28-28, Benilde seized control starting the second half, scoring 16 consecutive points on Floyd’s final scoring run, a safety when Braeden Fitzgerald tackled Marshall running back Jefferson Lee V in the end zone, and a short touchdown run by quarterback Will Whitmore that capped the drive that followed the ensuing free kick.
“That [safety] was your turner right there,” Benilde co-head coach Jon Hanks said. “ We jump up 10 points and now we’ve got the ball. We score and we take the momentum from them.”
Benilde-St. Margaret’s spotted Marshall a 13-point lead, then rode the legs of Ricky Floyd to a 44-34 victory over the previously undefeated Tigers and into the Class 4A championship game.
Floyd rushed for 273 yards and three touchdowns -- on runs of 81, 51 and 34 yards -- as the Red Knights roared past the listless Tigers (11-1).
Benilde-St. Margaret’s also got a 13-yard touchdown run from Alex Houlihan, a 93-yard kickoff return for a score by Payton James and a 1-yard dive from quarterback Will Whitmore. Linebacker Braden Fitzgerald added a safety and an interception for Benilde-St. Margaret’s (9-3), which will be playing in the Prep Bowl for the first time in team history.
Check back later for more on the game