T.C. Williams receiver Tyrell Sitton caught a pass near the Annandale bench, broke free from an Atoms defender and sprinted down the sideline. Approaching the end zone, Sitton cut back toward the middle of the field before stumbling and falling at the 1-yard line. Moments later, after the Titans had scored to put the game away, an assistant coach jokingly asked Sitton about the play.
"I slipped," said the receiver nicknamed "T-Rex."
While losing his footing cost Sitton a touchdown on that particular play, the senior found plenty of success earlier in the day when his feet were anything but planted firmly on the ground.
Sitton twice leaped over an Annandale defensive back to haul in a touchdown pass and an improved passing attack helped the Titans defeat the Atoms 31-10 on Oct. 9 at Parker-Gray Stadium. Sophomore quarterback Alec Grosser, making his third varsity start, showed confidence in Sitton near the red zone, allowing him to go up and make plays. Sitton finished with five catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
"It makes me feel more confident," Grosser said of Sitton’s performance. "There’s a receiver you can always throw to and he’ll go up and get a ball. We’ve got a bunch of good receivers. He just did real well today."
The first of Sitton’s two touchdown receptions gave TC a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. No. 11 snagged the 18-yard pass at its high point and held on despite being pulled down by his helmet.
"It’s like a jump ball," said Sitton, who also plays on the school’s basketball team. "They just tell me to go and get it."
Grosser completed 17 of 21 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns — easily the best performance of his fledgling TC career. One week earlier, the Titans amassed 263 yards on the ground against West Springfield, including 201 from Zaquan Summers. Against Annandale, TC rushed for 177 yards, including 112 from Summers, but Grosser and the passing attack reminded TC fans the Titans’ spread offense is two dimensional.
Grosser "still makes a couple bad decisions out there, but he makes things happen because he has a live arm," head coach Dennis Randolph said. "One of the things he’s starting to do is he’s starting to trust his receivers. The first ball he threw to Tyrell, it was a little underthrown. But you watch the pros or you watch college, good quarterbacks have got to have good receivers. You’ve got to trust your receivers to make plays and Tyrell made some big plays today."
Grosser spread his 17 completions to seven different receivers. Summers, Raquan Brunson and Will Rossi each caught three passes. Summers finished with 38 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Senior lineman Jay Whitmire, a 6-foot-7, 285-pound Division I recruit at offensive tackle, returned to action against Annandale for the first time since suffering an ankle injury during an Aug. 26 scrimmage against Centreville. Whitmire wore No. 98 — an eligible receiver number — rather than his usual No. 77. Defensively, he lined up at his customary end position. But on offense, he played tight end instead of tackle. Randolph said after injuries had caused shuffling along the O-line seemingly every week , he didn’t want to disrupt any continuity the Titans were building by placing Whitmire at tackle. Senior Eric Berger, listed at 5-10, 298 pounds, started at right tackle.
"Eric Berger’s been playing well at tackle, had a real good week [against West Springfield], and I really didn’t want to upset the little consistency that we had on the offensive line by throwing Jay back in there," Randolph said. "He’s going to be a college tackle, but with us, there’s an opportunity to get a little heavier line in there [with Whitmire at tight end] and push some people."
Randolph said he was unsure of whether Whitmire would play tight end or tackle in the future.
Whitmire said he enjoyed being back on the field after missing five games and he’s open to playing tight end.
"It felt good," said Whitmire, who recorded three tackles. "My legs felt better today than they had all week. I think I’m getting back into shape."
Linebacker Damien Benton led TC with 14 tackles. Deontre Sanders finished with 11 tackles and Ed Massaquoi recorded 10. Safety Isreal Richardson, who returned from a knee injury, made eight tackles.
While Randolph was happy with the victory, he said the Titans weren’t playing with the kind of intensity he was hoping for.
"I think we’re a better football team when we play intense," Randolph said. "We have some kids that will knock the crap out of you. There was a little bit of that today, but — I can’t put my finger on it — I was a little disappointed just because I know how hard they can hit."
The win improved the Titans to 3-3, 2-1 in the Patriot District. TC will travel to face Woodson at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 15.