Butler senior quarterback Anthony Ratliff-Williams admits his team has stewed over its loss to Rocky River last season ever since that game ended.
Friday night, Ratliff-Williams and his teammates finally got their revenge, unleashing all of their “drive and anger,” as Butler, No. 3 in the Observer Sweet 16, rolled past the No. 15 Ravens 55-21.
“We owed them one big time because we’ve had a bad taste in our mouths for the last 365 days,” said Ratliff-Williams, a University of North Carolina commit. “We just unleashed all of that drive and anger out there on the field tonight. We feel like we have to play with that same type of chip on our shoulder every week to prove we are still the top dog.”
Ratliff-Williams led the charge, rushing for 186 yards and two touchdowns – runs of 63 and 67 yards – on 11 carries. He also passed for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Bulldogs tailback Bennie LeMay also had a big game with 158 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
Butler senior wideout Alex Barrow (Charlotte 49ers commit) had seven catches for 130 yards and three touchdown.
The Butler defense also played a big game. It held Rocky River to seven second-half points and forced three turnovers (all interceptions). Linebacker Jay Gibbs’ 35-yard interception return of Naiil Ramadan provided the game’s first points.
“This was truly a team effort and win for us tonight,” Butler coach Brian Hales said. “When you have all three phases going like that you can really do some great things and we did.”
After a tight first-half, it appeared Butler (8-1, 4-0 Southwestern 4A) might be pulling away when Ratliff-Williams ran for a 67-yard touchdown and 27-14 lead on the second play from scrimmage.
But Rocky River (6-3, 3-1) responded on the next drive when Ramadan found wideout, Jaire Alexander (eight catches for 121 yards, two touchdowns), on a 30-yard touchdown pass and catch, their second scoring connection of the night to cut it to 27-21.
Then, disaster appeared to have struck for Butler, when Ratliff-Williams went down with what appeared to be a serious injury.
But backup quarterback Davis Cheek, in the first meaningful playing time of his career, calmly led his team down the field, capping the drive with a 29-yard over the shoulder pass to Barrow for a touchdown and a 34-21 lead.
Butler poured it on in the fourth quarter, as Ratliff-Williams returned to throw two more touchdown passes to Barrow.
Even Shrine-Bowl bound defensive lineman Jalen Cousar got into the act with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Rocky River tailback Elijah Jettrushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Ramadan was 18 for 25 passing for 229 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.