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LoPresti’s Flip Propels Robinson

Rams cruise past T.C. Williams in season opener

Robinson quarterback Mike LoPresti dropped back to pass early in the Rams’ season opener and found himself under immediate pressure from the T.C. Williams defense. Facing third-and-15 from the TC 31-yard line, LoPresti scrambled to his left and flipped the ball in the air.

What appeared to be an act of desperation proved a momentum-capturing decision when the ball landed in the hands of running back Jared Velasquez, who scampered 27 yards for a first down. Running back Kambulu Musokotwane scored the game’s first touchdown on the next play.

"We had a screen [pass] called and we got pressure immediately," said Robinson head coach Mark Bendorf. "Mike LoPresti wasn’t able to set his feet and he did the ol’ Brett Favre flip. We had it set up so as soon as Jared got the ball he was in space and, in space, you can see he’s pretty tough. That [play] was critical."

Robinson scored touchdowns on its next two possessions and cruised to a 35-2 victory in its season opener on Sept. 2 at T.C. Williams High School. In his second season leading the Rams’ wing-T offense, LoPresti completed five of 11 passes for 82 yards.

"I feel a lot better," said LoPresti, of having a year of varsity experience under his belt. "I’m used to how quick the game is. Last year, it was a little surprise at first, but I got the hang of it."

Velasquez said he thought LoPresti wouldn’t have time to get him the ball. LoPresti showed that he’s caught up to the speed of the game, if not pulled ahead.

"We had the kid back there, ready to sack him, and he flicked the ball out there like good quarterbacks do," said Dennis Randolph, T.C. Williams head coach. "The job of the quarterback is to make plays. It wasn’t pretty, you don’t teach it" but it got the job done.

LoPresti’s pass sparked Robinson’s offense, which spent the rest of the evening finding success on the ground. The Rams amassed 148 yards and four touchdowns with the run game, led by Velasquez’s 86 yards and two scores.

Velasquez, who rushed for 1,309 yards as a junior, is the Rams’ top offensive threat.

"He kind of just picked up where he left off," Bendorf said.

Musokotwane rushed for 42 yards and two touchdowns for the Rams. Patrick Baker was Robinson’s leading receiver with three catches for 40 yards.

The Robinson defense forced two turnovers and limited the TC offense to 180 total yards and no points.

"Other than a couple of breakdowns in the run game, where some off-tackle stuff bounced [outside], where we maybe got sucked in a little bit, I thought we played well defensively," Bendorf said. "We didn’t let much get behind us."

The Titans lost two fumbles in their first five offensive plays.

"You can’t keep giving the ball to the other team, and a good football team at that," Randolph said. "They’re well coached, they’re tough, they’re big and they’re strong. [Velasquez], that kid can run. He’s a tough runner and he wears you down."

The Rams’ special teams also made an impact, blocking a field goal on the final play of the first half. Ethan Steen scooped up the loose football and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown and a 29-0 halftime lead. The team’s only blemish came late in the fourth quarter when a punt snap went through the end zone for a safety, giving the Titans their only two points.

Robinson finished 10-2 last season and lost to eventual sate runner-up Lake Braddock in the second round of the playoffs. The lopsided victory over T.C. Williams gets the Rams off to a good start in 2010, but Benford cautioned his players not to overlook their Sept. 10 contest at Fairfax.

"It makes us very confident," Velasquez said of the 33-point win over the Titans. "As long as we just keep working and don’t get too big headed over one [win]. We’ve got to keep playing every day, get better and get better."