RENSSELAER — Friday was senior night at Rensselaer Central.
So it seemed fitting that a senior would step into the spotlight in leading the Bombers to a 38-0 shutout of visiting Munster.
Senior running back Addison Wilmington — who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season — had his best night yet in his final season, covering 129 yards on 18 carries with three scores to help his team improve to 2-2.
One of eight seniors on this year’s squad, Wilmington and the offensive line set the tone early the first time the Bombers touched the ball.
“It’s so hard to spread out carries because we have so many good backs on this team,” Wilmington said. “Tonight, I was able to get going early.”
Rensselaer strung together 15 plays — including 13 running plays by Wilmington — to march 65 yards for its first score. The drive, which ate up 6 minutes, 20 seconds of time, was punctuated by Wilmington’s 4-yard burst into the end zone.
A sack on third-and-3 on the Bombers’ next possession and an interception of a Tate Drone pass a possession after that kept RCHS from punching in two more scores.
Finally, with 4:36 left in the first half, the Bombers took over on their own 36-yard line, but a 59-yard scamper by junior quarterback Drone put his team in scoring position.
Four runs by junior Dylan Kidd totaling 11 yards capped the drive, including a 1-yard touchdown run by Kidd with 1:53. Senior kicker Luke Dixon’s point-after gave the Bombers a 14-0 advantage.
Rensselaer would then score on three straight possessions in the second half for a 35-0 lead. That forced officials to call for a running clock over the game’s final 15-plus minutes.
A fumble of a punt snap by Munster had the Bombers at the Mustangs’ 35-yard line and the home team needed just three plays to punch in its third score. Wilmington’s 26-yard run through the middle of the Mustang defense put his team up 21-0.
“We have some good backs, and whoever has the hot hand we’re going to feed him the rock the best we can, and tonight, he had the hot hand,” Bombers coach Chris Meeks said of Wilmington. “He also had a nice reception down the middle that unfortunately got called back. He ran the ball hard and we’re going to need that from him moving forward. I thought all our backs did a nice job running the ball tonight.
“For us to be successful, we have to grind it out, get three, four yards a pop, throw in an action pass in there and that’s what we tried to do tonight.”
Dalton Kidd got into the act on Rensselaer’s next offensive possession, sprinting 10 yards for a 28-0 lead. It capped a five-play, 23-yard drive for the Bombers.
With 3:47 left in the third quarter, the Bombers took advantage of a combined Kidd play — Dalton caused a fumble and brother Dylan recovered the loose ball — to add another quick score. Wilmington punched in his third score of the game with 2:48 showing, this time carrying a pair of Mustangs into the end zone on a 5-yard TD run.
Dixon’s 44-yard field goal with 7:53 left in the game capped the scoring at 38-0.
It was the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Munster had an opening in its schedule after the Hammond schools postponed their sports seasons this summer. Meanwhile, the Bombers were slated to play Twin Lakes, but COVID cases forced Twin Lakes officials to suspend sports for two weeks.
Twin Lakes will play Indianapolis Tindley later tonight.
The Bombers totaled 319 yards on 49 plays Friday, with a rotation of backs gaining 267 yards on 40 plays.
Drone was 5 of 9 passing for 60 yards and added 59 yards on the ground.
Munster (1-3), which opens Northwest Crossroads Conference play at unbeaten Kankakee Valley (4-0) next week, was held to 83 total yards on 45 offensive plays.
“They’re a 5A team and they’ve got 5A athletes, so we thought it would be a tough game,” Meeks said. “I was particularly pleased with our defense, especially coming out of the second half. I thought our defensive line controlled the second half. We really bottled up their quarterback. I thought our defensive line really stepped the pressure up, and we haven’t really seen that all year from them. I thought we kicked it into a second and third gear defensively, which gave us great field position in the second half.”
Defensively, junior Lakin Webb had eight tackles and Dylan Kidd had six tackles. Ayden Randolph also had six tackles, Jordan Cree added five and Dalton Kidd had three tackles for loss for a total of 15 yards.
It’s been a surreal ride for Wilmington and his teammates thus far. With West Lafayette coming to Rensselaer next week, the Bombers will have been at home four straight weeks.
“With the COVID, it was definitely an experience, but it’s worked out good though,” Wilmington said. “This (win) is going to push us, get our mindset right and give us momentum.”