For all that time last season spent patiently awaiting his chance to shine, Richard Montgomery running back Kevon Calhoun didn't disappoint when given the opportunity.
The senior rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries last night to lead the visiting Rockets past Northwest, 22-21, in a Montgomery County game. With the win, Richard Montgomery earned a spot in the 4A West playoffs.
Calhoun, behind All-Met Steve Weedon on the depth chart last year, was perhaps the biggest reason why his team turned things around this year after a 2-2 start. The Rockets finished the season with a 5-1 record over their past six games, a span in which Calhoun rushed for 100 or more yards five times.
"That's what Kevon's done for us all year," Richard Montgomery Coach Mike Bonavia said. "We knew we were going to have to put it in his hands to win a big game like this."
In reaching the playoffs for the second straight season, the Rockets survived a 29-carry, 174-yard performance by Northwest running back Anthony King and kept last year's 3A champion Jaguars (5-5) out of the postseason.
Calhoun's work in the fourth quarter last night was the difference. After King brought Northwest within 19-13 on a five-yard run, Calhoun became the focal point of a pivotal drive that lasted more than seven minutes and ended in a 27-yard field goal by Dan Froehlich.
Twice Calhoun ran for big gains on third-down conversions when he only needed a few yards, helping set up the field goal with 2 minutes 22 seconds left.
"I'm not the kind of person who just goes for yards. I like to get extra yards," Calhoun said. "Once we got set up in good position, I knew [Dan] would make it."
Northwest marched 69 yards downfield on the ensuing drive, as a six-yard pass from Josh Volpe to Marckus Ruffin brought the Jaguars within a point. But the Rockets recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock behind Calhoun.
Coincidentally, it was a Calhoun fumble -- his only one of the season -- that led to the decisive score in a loss to Springbrook last week. So in the middle of a frenzied postgame celebration, Bonavia pulled his running back to the side and offered him a few words of appreciation.
"He really took that fumble last week real bad," Bonavia said. "I told him: 'You ran harder than hard. You did exactly what we needed you to do.' "