BROCKTON — Every time Bishop Fenwick running back Rufus Rushins was handed the ball, the entire Cardinal Spellman sideline screamed “Rufus!” But even when the Cardinals knew what was coming, they couldn’t stop the 6-foot-1-inch, 230-pounder.
The junior finished with 24 carries for 233 yards and two touchdowns as the Crusaders (4-0) beat Cardinal Spellman (3-1), 42-20, on Saturday at Potvin Field.
“He’s got a lot of heart and a lot of determination,” said Bishop Fenwick coach Dave Woods. “And when you get the offensive line blocking today the way they did, it’s pretty tough to stop. I wouldn’t want to have to try to defend it.”
Rushins’s dominance was highlighted in a clock-draining drive in the fourth quarter, when the Crusaders ran the same play eight times in a row — all handoffs to Rushins, who ran up the middle behind two fullbacks. The eight plays resulted in 48 yards and chewed up more than five minutes before Cardinal Spellman called a timeout.
“The first time in my career that we’ve ever done that,” Woods said. “That just shows the determination of the offensive line and Rufus.”
Two of the next three plays were again inside handoffs to Rushins for 16 yards before quarterback Nick Bona threw an 11-yard touchdown to James Traversey.
“The kids played great,” Woods said. “They definitely were motivated. That’s one heck of a football team, Cardinal Spellman. To be able to do what we did is very impressive, to me.”
It often took a pile of Cardinals to take down Rushins, who moved the pile to pick up extra yards on each carry.
“I have to give that to my O-line,” Rushins said. “They gave me really good holes to run in. As a team, we had a really good performance.”
Rushins’s first touchdown came in the second quarter, a 2-yard walk into the end zone. The score was set up by Rushins’s 80-yard dash from Fenwick’s 4-yard line before he was finally tripped up. The second TD, a 19-yard run, gave the Crusaders a 35-14 lead the at end of the third quarter.
The threat of Rushins on the ground bolstered Fenwick’s aerial attack. Bona finished the day 5-for-8 passing for 96 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, adding 49 yards and a TD on the ground.
“When you can pound it in there, it forces the team to put 10 or 11 guys in the box and then it makes it easier for a play-action pass,” Woods said.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders were able to shut down the Cardinal Spellman offense for most of the day by containing the run. Rory Donovan finally broke through for the Cardinals in the second quarter when he took a double reverse 75 yards for a touchdown.
“They hit us with a couple of big plays, but overall I thought we played pretty good defense,” Woods said.
Matt Anastasi (15 carries, 60 yards) had a 5-yard touchdown run and Austin Joseph (12 for 17 passing, 161 yards) added a late 11-yard touchdown pass to Joe Crane.
Bishop Fenwick also forced two turnovers, one a fumble that Tom Parsons recovered and returned 70 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
In the end, though, those plays seemed like sidenotes to Rushins’s overpowering rumbles up the middle that led to the win.
“That’s just smashmouth football,” Rushins said. “It’s your 11 versus my 11 and see which one was better. And our 11 was better.”