Randolph scores 5 TDs to lead win over Mars, keep Highlands undefeated

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Friday, September 30, 2022 | 10:29 PM


Highlands junior Aaran Randolph had a night to remember.

Playing a variety of positions, particularly wildcat quarterback, Randolph was in on the first six Highlands touchdowns of the night, including scores on three consecutive plays.

It all added up to a resounding 54-22 home victory Friday night against Mars in Greater Allegheny Conference play.

Randolph caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Chandler Thimons to get the scoring underway less than four minutes into the contest.

After the Planets answered with 97-yard, nine-play drive to tie the score on a 17-yard pass from Eric Kasperowicz to Jacob Maple, it was Randolph’s show. He scored four touchdowns in 5 minutes, 18 seconds on runs of 13, 24, 19 and a scintillating 65-yard run during which he broke at least seven tackles.

Thimons, the four-year starter at quarterback, was content to throw blocks on the final two Randolph runs.

Highlands, fourth this week in the TribHSSN rankings, is 6-0 for the first time in eight seasons, 3-0 in the conference. Mars dropped to 4-2, 1-1.

“My men were doing their job blocking, and I got open,” Randolph said. “If I can get into the open space, they’re not catching me. It was crazy. We had a good gameplan, and we worked together.

As if his running exploits weren’t enough, Randolph put the icing on the first-half cake with a 56-yard scoring toss to, of all people, Thimons to give the Golden Rams a 40-7 halftime lead.

“Aaran’s a ballplayer,” Highlands coach Matt Bonislawski said. “We know what he brings to the table. We really haven’t really brought him out yet too much. I think it’s just a matter of him getting comfortable.”

The Highlands second-quarter barrage was fueled by an interception by Montrell Johnson and a sack by Daniel Long that set up a 5-yard Mars punt to the Planets 19.

To make things worse, Mars sophomore running back Evan Wright, who came into the game as Class 4A’s second-leading rusher with 773 yards, was injured early in the game and did not return.

“We made that kid look like Deion Sanders,” Planets coach Eric Kasperowicz said. “It was pretty bad. They outphysicaled us tonight. They were the better football team. We had seven missed tackles on one of his runs, six on another, eight on the other one. They had three one-play drives. They found a weakness on us. They were the tougher team.”

Mars had minus-26 net yards in the second quarter but got its offense going after receiving the third-quarter kickoff and driving 61 yards in 11 plays to make it 40-14. But the Golden Rams played ball control after that, with Luke Bombalski carrying all 10 plays during a touchdown drive to put the “mercy rule” clock in action.

Thimons had just the one 19-yard pass.

“Chandler’s the ultimate teammate,” Bonislawski said. “He’s having fun out there. He wants to make plays. He’s the quarterback, but he’s out there pancaking guys, catching deep balls. The smile on his face said it all.”

Reserve running back Austin Hatajik concluded the Golden Rams’ scoring with a 6-yard run, and Mars tallied on a 67-yard pass from quarterback Kasperowicz to Gabe Hein.

The younger Kasperowicz finished with 174 passing yards.

Bombalski had 141 yards rushing to go over the 2,000-yard mark for his Highlands career.

Mars still leads the all-time series 7-4.

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