Record-breaking Bullock eclipses 2,000 yards as Ryan rolls G.W.

  • All-Public linebacker Tyrone McNeil pursues Ryan freshman quarterback Matt Romano. BRIAN BAILEY / FOR THE TIMES

  • Broken record: Samir Bullock finished his junior season with 2,057 yards rushing, a school record. He also broke the school’s single-game rushing record in the first game of the season, his first in a Ryan uniform after transferring from Father Judge. BRIAN BAILEY / FOR THE TIMES

The Arch­bish­op Ry­an coach­ing staff had a strong yet simple mes­sage for the Raid­ers’ foot­ball team after their Thanks­giv­ing Day battle with Far North­east rival George Wash­ing­ton.

“When you get knocked down, get back up,” head coach Frank McArdle told the Raid­ers.

But they already knew that.

In power­ing past the host Eagles, 21-0, Ry­an fin­ished its sea­son with a fourth con­sec­ut­ive vic­tory and its eighth over­all. The win total was the pro­gram’s highest since 1998. Mean­while, Ry­an’s 341 points for the year set a school re­cord as did ju­ni­or Samir Bul­lock’s 2,057 rush­ing yards.

Bul­lock’s 282 yards and three touch­downs on a blustery day and muddy track provided vir­tu­ally all of the of­fense as the Raid­ers looked noth­ing like the reel­ing unit that lost three straight games in mid-sea­son — a stretch that ruined their lofty play­off hopes.

“Every­body could’ve just quit on us, but we came back and did the op­pos­ite,” right guard Nick Werez said. “You have to keep go­ing hard at prac­tice every week be­cause it’s foot­ball and any­thing can hap­pen.”

Ry­an didn’t even pack it in lead­ing up to the an­nu­al Thanks­giv­ing show­down, des­pite fa­cing a down­trod­den Wash­ing­ton team fresh off of its one-sided loss to Frank­ford in the Pub­lic League title game. Bul­lock scored on runs of 40 and 5 yards with­in a sev­en-minute span of the first half, then tacked on a third touch­down on his 80-yard run to open the third quarter.

Af­ter­ward, the ju­ni­or trans­fer from Fath­er Judge made it clear who really earned the rush­ing re­cord this year: his of­fens­ive line.

“They’re a bunch of great guys. I give it all to them. They made it hap­pen,” Bul­lock said.

Werez earned All-Cath­ol­ic first team hon­ors, as did right tackle Joe Hans­bury and cen­ter An­drew Voro­s­cak. Left tackle Tom Haughey and left guard Nick Os­taszewski were stal­warts, too. All five are seni­ors.

“It’s great to know that we all did it to­geth­er,” Voro­s­cak said. “It’s a great group of people to share it with.”

In Wash­ing­ton, Ry­an faced ar­gu­ably one of its toughest de­fens­ive fronts of the sea­son, led by All-Pub­lic line­back­er Tyr­one McNeil. And it wasn’t easy for the Raid­ers.

Bul­lock car­ried 31 times in the game. He got nowhere on his team’s first of­fens­ive series, so Ry­an turned to the air with a strong wind at its back. Fresh­man quar­ter­back Matt Ro­mano made his first ever start and com­pleted two of his first three tosses. One went to his broth­er, seni­or Bobby Ro­mano, for 20 yards, then an­oth­er to Con­nor Golden for 10. But Wash­ing­ton held on fourth down at its own 30.

The kick­ing game was in­teg­ral in Ry­an’s first two touch­downs. With just over three minutes left in the first quarter, Wash­ing­ton had to punt from its own 26. A gust of wind knocked down Chris Schle­gel’s ef­fort after just 14 yards.

Bul­lock ran be­hind the right side of the line for 40 yards on the next play to give the Raid­ers a 7-0 lead.

Wash­ing­ton failed to re­cord a first down on its next pos­ses­sion and again found it­self punt­ing from its own 24. The kick net­ted just six yards.

It took the Raid­ers sev­en plays to cov­er the 30 yards, but Bul­lock se­cured a second touch­down on a 5-yard run be­hind right tackle.

Both de­fenses stiffened for the rest of the first half. Ry­an re­covered a short kick­off and took pos­ses­sion at the Eagles’ 23, but Wash­ing­ton forced a fumble at its 4 and kept the Raid­ers out of the end zone.

Minutes later, Ry­an’s Bobby Ro­mano in­ter­cep­ted a pass near mid­field just as Wash­ing­ton seemed to be gain­ing some mo­mentum.

Seni­or run­ning back Ak­inyeli Ever­age was the most pro­duct­ive Eagle with 49 yards on 19 car­ries. Seni­or wideout Has­an Brock­man caught three passes for 36 yards and pos­ted a 29-yard run on a wild­cat play.

“We’re a team and we play to­geth­er,” Ever­age said. “We al­ways have heart, but it was a crazy field. We feel we stood our ground and nev­er backed down.”

After Bul­lock’s 80-yarder to open the second half, the teams settled in­to a battle of at­tri­tion.

Wash­ing­ton ad­vanced to Ry­an’s 20 early in the third quarter, but got no farther as the Raid­ers’ de­fense stopped two runs and forced a couple of in­com­plete passes.

Bul­lock picked up 12 yards, then 52 yards on con­sec­ut­ive plays mid­way through the third quarter, but a pen­alty and fumble stalled the Raid­ers deep in Wash­ing­ton ter­rit­ory.

Wash­ing­ton had two more op­por­tun­it­ies in Ry­an ter­rit­ory later in the game. The Eagles failed on fourth-and-five from the 39 late in the third, then lost the ball on Jason Dones’ in­ter­cep­tion mid­way through the fourth.

Bul­lock — and his of­fens­ive line — closed out the game on the ground, run­ning nine straight times for 29 yards on the Raid­ers’ fi­nal pos­ses­sion.

“I hope we keep that re­cord,” Werez said. “If some­body beats it, I’ll be happy for them. It’s a good goal to beat. It’s tough to do.”

“I think we paved the road for the kids com­ing up, how to pre­pare in the off­season and have a good work eth­ic,” Voro­s­cak said. “If you get down, you’ve got to get back up and ‘keep chop­ping.’ ” ••

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