Brandon Royster is widely regarded as one of the best running backs in the area, but it turns out he's even better than anybody thought. Last night, in the season opener for both teams, Royster personally accounted for 16 points--12 for Fairfax and four for Annandale--in Fairfax's 14-11 victory at Annandale.
When it seemed like Fairfax could do nothing right, Royster broke through for runs of 22, 31 and seven yards just before halftime, the last one giving the Rebels their first touchdown of the night.
Later, as Fairfax tried desperately to hold on to its lead, Royster sealed the victory by taking a safety. He also scored on a 32-yard bolt up the middle and recovered a blocked punt for a second Annandale safety.
"It doesn't count in the [district] standings, but Fairfax-Annandale is a huge rivalry," Royster said. "We always look forward to this game."
For most of the evening, when Royster looked upfield he saw Annandale lineman Jeremiah Davis. Davis and Annandale stuffed the Fairfax running game most of the game.
"He's a great player," Royster said. "It doesn't get any better than him. We had to avoid him, but we knew we couldn't just leave him alone."
That wouldn't have worked even if Fairfax had tried. When Royster made it past the line of scrimmage, the results were sometimes electric. But Royster usually got stopped before he started.
"It was frustrating," Royster said. "But our coaches know that they have to see what they are trying to do against us. We adjust. That's one thing we can do at any time."
It was clear from the start that each team would try to establish the run, but it took a while before either team could actually do it. The first quarter was classic three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust football.
Annandale finally broke the scoreless tie with 50 seconds left in the half after recovering a fumble on the Fairfax 10. Sam Korpoi rushed for six yards, then the final four, and it was 7-0, Annandale.
That seemed to wake up Fairfax. Instead of killing the final 50 seconds and making changes at halftime, the Rebels used timeouts and the sidelines to prolong the half. But it would have been fruitless without Royster, who ran for 59 yards on four carries and pulled his team to 7-6.
The extra point was blocked by Victor Downing, but Fairfax made up for it with a two-point conversion pass from Ian McAlpine to Chris Whitlow after Royster's second touchdown.