SYLVESTER -- Ramback?
Is that a word? Or is it a feeling? Or maybe -- just maybe -- it's a beginning.
The kids at Worth believe it's all three. You can't blame them. Not after Friday night, not after that one-sided 28-15 victory against Westover that wasn't even close.
"Yeah, it's a word,'' Worth quarterback Will Peacock said. "It's gonna be one now. It's got to be. Because we're back. We're back playing the way we can play, and it's full speed ahead from now on.''
Ramback just fits -- fits Worth's rambunctious Rams for all the right reasons. If you have been paying attention then you know all about Worth's elevator ride, the electric, inspiring beginning and then the nose-bleeding free fall.
The Rams landed at Milt Miller Field on Friday night looking for some direction, and maybe even an identity. They landed with a 2-3 record and hopes of turning an 0-1 start in the Region 1-AAA race into a respectable 1-1 start. They landed with a three-game losing streak that had everyone wondering what happened to those 2-0 Rams that had knocked over state-ranked Fitzgerald on opening night.
That's the way they landed. They left dancing and shouting into the night in front of a huge homecoming crowd that couldn't have found a better way to celebrate Worth's 50th anniversary on its home field.
Ramback! It fits for all the right reasons.
"We lost those three games in a row,'' said Worth coach Scotty Ward, who never gave up on his team. "We looked at it as a bump in the road. I know three in a row feels like a big bump, but the kids kept playing hard.''
Maybe that was the secret. The Rams just never got down. It's hard to imagine them being any higher than they were after this win.
Even higher than they were against Fitzgerald.
"I wanted to win this game a lot more then I wanted to beat Fitzgerald,'' said Worth tailback Ellis Anderson, who scored two second-half TDs and finished the game with 79 yards, including 60 in the second half, on 14 carries. "Beating Fitzgerald felt great, but this feels better. It feels great.
"No, it feels awesome.''
The Rams needed it more. It gives them a foothold in the Region 1-AAA race, because an 0-2 start would have nearly buried them.
And they knew it.
"We had to have this game,'' said linebacker Chris Ford, who recovered one of Westover's five fumbles. "It means so much. It means we got back on track, and now we've just got to keep going. Winning this game just got everybody pumped up. It's got everybody's heads right.''
Then he stopped and gave a big smile and shouted; "We're back. We're back for good.''
Ford had reason to smile. Worth's linebackers swarmed all night. Ford, C.J. Hurley and Dantavious Jones seemed to be everywhere Westover wanted to go, and Trey Frager, who starts on both sides of the line, was everywhere else.
Frager had a monster game as a defensive lineman, then added his own spin to this one by catching a 10-yard TD pass from Peacock to lift Worth to a 21-0 lead with 1:46 left in the third. Anderson put the final touches on the romp with a 19-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. He scored on a 3-yard run early in the third to start the one-sided victory.
Jhue Rhodes had been Worth's workhorse early, but was banged up in the third with a shoulder injury and -- after gaining 52 yards in the first half -- carried the ball only four times and finished the night with 88 yards on 16 carries.
"When Jhue hurt his shoulder, I knew I just had to run harder,'' Anderson said. "And I ran harder.''
Ward might argue the point.
"Both of them run hard on every play,'' he said of his dual-threat backs. "I think we did what we wanted to do. We controlled the ball and controlled the clock. And we were delivering the blows instead of taking them.''
It was 28-0 with 1:35 left in the game.
Derrick Akins spoiled the party (and it was a party in Sylvester) by picking up a fumble and returning it 48 yards for a TD to get Westover on the board with 1:35 left. Then, after Westover recovered a fumble, Akins capped off a short drive by catching a 4-yard TD pass from Justin Taylor with 10 seconds left. Taylor hit Kenneth Townes with a 2-point conversion pass to make the final, 28-15.
It had been such a nailbiter early, and Worth led just 7-0 at halftime, thanks to a slick, 44-yard reverse by Savion Farley, the Rams' quickest player who returned after missing two weeks with a shoulder injury.
"He does give us a twist,'' Ward said with a grin. "I don't know if we are back or not. I know it feels good to be 1-1 in the region. It was a good night for us.''
Farley's 44-yard jolt came on Worth's first series, but Westover played tough until fumbles took the Patriots out of the game in the third quarter.
"I felt we had the momentum at halftime, even though they had the lead,'' Westover coach Octavia Jones said. "We were one play away at that point.''
But the Patriots fumbled the ball the first three times they touched it in the second half, and Worth went 49 yards and then 44 yards to go up, 21-0, then slammed the door on Westover until late in the fourth.
"We didn't do anything to help ourselves,'' Jones said. "We kept making mistakes and putting ourselves in bad predicaments all night long. And we couldn't recover from it.''
Westover (2-4 and 1-1 in Region 1-AAA) lost four of five fumbles and was flagged for 125 yards in penalties (Worth was hit with 95 yards in penalties) and now must regroup.
"We're open next week, and we're just going to have to lick our wounds and get ready for Crisp,'' Jones said.
Now it's time for Westover to bounce back -- just like the Rams.
"Oh, we're back,'' Anderson said. "We came out with a spark tonight. We're back and we need to keep that spark, that intensity. We got that back from the first game. We're all the way back.''
Make that, Ramback.