Rams rock Eagles, clinch playoff spot with 55-24 win at home

Keenan Wilbanks brings down a Pisgah defender during Friday's win.

SYLVANIA – The Sylvania Rams celebrated their 2019 senior night in style Friday by clinching their sixth straight win and a playoff spot with a dominant 55-24 win over the Pisgah Eagles.

Sylvania’s defense forced a three-and-out to start the game and quickly set the tone on offense when their first snap saw Keenan Wilbanks take a jet sweep for a 64-yard game. Gareth Anderson scored two plays later from a yard out to put the Rams up 7-0 early.

After another three-and-out from Sylvania’s defense, Gareth capped off another quick drive with a 45-yard gallop to the end zone to double the Rams’ lead with five minutes left in the first.

Pisgah then answered back with a 5-play, 74-yard drive that ended on a 1-yard touchdown run from Rhyan Barrett. The Eagles went for two and failed to convert, which made the score 14-6 late in the first.

Sylvania got a short field to work with on their drive and went 42 yards in six plays before Levi Anderson scored from four yards out. A missed PAT then made the lead 20-6 at the end of the first.

Pisgah then cut it to a 1-score game again when Bate Corneliuson broke off a 64-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter. The Eagles went for two and came up short again to make the score 20-12.

That was as close as Pisgah would get to taking a lead Friday as Sylvania outscored the Eagles 31-12 the rest of the way.

That run started with the Rams’ next drive, which covered 62 yards in six plays and ended when Gareth Anderson ran 22 yards before fumbling the ball into the end zone. Mason Sanders then dove on the ball for the touchdown and a good PAT made the score 27-12 with 9:22 left in the first half.

Sylvania’s defense then forced an Eagles’ fumble at their own 30-yard line. Sidney Decker scooped the ball up for the Rams and Sylvania scored one play later when quarterback Brody Smith connected with Jordan Johnson for a 30-yard strike to make the score 34-12.

After another quick punt from Pisgah, Sylvania drove 62 yards in six snaps before Sanders punched the ball across the goal line on a 5-yard carry to make the score 41-12 with 4:15 left in the half.

Pisgah then scored their third touchdown of the night on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Zack Corneliuson to Nate Corneliuson.

Sylvania then marched the length of the field for the seventh time in the half, covering 65 yards in seven plays before scoring on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Johnson. Another good PAT made the lead 48-18 at halftime.

Sylvania took the ball to start the second half and milked nearly half of the clock in the third quarter with a drive that saw nine running plays and ended in the end zone once again when Levi Anderson scored from 10 yards out to make the lead 55-18.

Pisgah responded with their final touchdown of the night on a 3-yard touchdown run by Nate Corneliuson to make the final score 55-24.

Both teams were flagged for several penalties down the stretch and couldn’t put up any more points in the final minutes of Friday’s matchup before Sylvania secured the win.

Levi Anderson led the Rams’ running game with 145 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Gareth Anderson finished with 83 yards and two scores on just four carries and also hauled in one pass for a 29-yard gain.

Smith completed 8-of-13 passes for 169 yards and two scores. Both of his touchdown passes went to Johnson, who finished with three receptions for 56 yards.

The Rams’ biggest matchup of the season is up next as Sylvania hosts the Geraldine Bulldogs this Friday.

Both teams enter that contest tied for second place in the 3A, Region 7 with matching 4-1 records, meaning that the winner will earn a No. 2 seed in the playoffs and a first-round home playoff game while the loser will have to play on the road in the first round of the playoffs.

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