FOXBOROUGH — When it comes to the third phase of a football game, practice paid off for Randolph.
Playing in their first Division 8 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, the Blue Devils came up with several pivotal plays Wednesday, including a pair of huge turning points on special teams to earn a 20-14 victory over Hull.
“Special teams is a huge part of what we do in Randolph,” said second-year coach Jonathan Marshall, a former special teams coach at Framingham and assistant at Holliston. “If you come watch [practice], it’s what we do to start and end every day. It just goes to show, what you do in practice pays off on the field.
“We talk about it all the time, everything we do is for improvement. I respect these kids and I don’t waste their time. If we’re doing it, it’s because it’s important. The kids buy into that, and that’s why we executed on some key special teams plays tonight.”
Trailing 14-8 late in the third quarter, without any completions in the passing game, Randolph (8-4) needed a spark.
The Blue Devils got it when junior defensive lineman Vidinic Bembeleza broke through the Hull offensive line for a blocked punt, setting his team up in enemy territory.
A few big runs by junior Osayuri Izedonmwen led to a 1-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Sebastian Jouissance to draw the game even at 14-14.
Izedonmwen, who led Randolph to a 16-10 quarterfinal win over Ware with two kickoff return touchdowns, also came up with a crucial interception in his end zone and a pick in the final minute to seal the win.
But it was an opportunistic special teams play that truly turned the tide.
After Hull recovered a fumble midway through the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils forced a three and out. With pressure coming through the A gaps, the Pirates’ punter had his kick ricochet off the helmet of his blocker, and it fell right to Randolph senior captain Malik White, who made a couple players miss en route to a 20-yard touchdown.
“I had to be ready for the big moment,” said White, who rushed for 110 yards on 24 carries and added a 16-yard reception. “So when I saw the ball in the air, I knew I had to catch it and go. Go get into the end zone.”
With Hull driving to try to erase a 20-14 deficit, pressure from junior Makhi Barnes led to another pick from Izedonmwen with a little more than one minute to play.
“All my coaches in every sport have told me that big-time players make big-time plays,” Izedonmwen said. “I feel like everyone on our team made a big play at a big moment. I feed off my brothers, their play, and that makes me able to deliver.”