All Rhodes lead to touchdowns in 41-14 Maiden win

Blue Devils’ sophomore quarterback, Ethan Rhodes (12) attempts to connect on a pass during his monster game against St. Stephens on Friday, September 13. (Photo by Cody Dalton/ CSD Photography)Blue Devils’ senior, Dylan Abernethy (6) runs home for one of his touchdowns against the Indians. (Photo by Cody Dalton/ CSD Photography)
Cody Dalton
O-N-E Contributor

Quarterback Ethan Rhodes threw five touchdown passes — three to Brennan James and two to Dylan Abernethy — leading the Maiden football team to a 41-14 victory on Friday night against county rival St. Stephens at Thomas E. Brown Stadium.

Rhodes — a sophomore — completed 16-of-23 passes for 302 yards in the contest to go with his five scores. He completed all seven of his passes in the second half.

“Ethan is just very smart in the passing game, and he understands the coverages and knows who is probably going to be the open receiver,” said Maiden head football coach Will Byrne. “The sky is the limit for him. He’s got a really strong arm. He’s got things he’s got to work on, but we’ve got him for two and a half more years. We’re excited about that.”

The Blue Devils (3-1) were forced to go to the air early in Friday’s contest after the Indians played run heavy defense. Maiden ran for just 91 total yards against St. Stephens.

“They were pretty much determined to stop the running,” Byrne said of Saint. “They were giving us the perimeter stuff and trying to play some coverages where felt we had an advantage.”

The adjustment to go to the passing game paid dividends early and often for the Blue Devils in the first half.

Rhodes connected on three of his five touchdown passes in the first quarter, including a 41-yard toss to James. He also connected on 20-yard and 43-yard scoring throws to Abernethy during the opening stanza.

“They just connected multiple times, and they did a great job converting on all of those big plays,” Byrne said of the chemistry between Rhodes and his receivers.

Ahead 21-0 after the first quarter, the Blue Devils added to their lead when Rhodes once again found James on a 27-yard pass-and-catch, and Abernethy returned a punt 80 yards for another Maiden score.

The Indians, who were held without a first down until just over three minutes left in the second quarter, finally broke on to the scoreboard with 56.1 seconds remaining in the first half when quarterback Connor William connected with wide receiver Zach Lee on a 17-yard touchdown pass.

Saint opened the second half with possession of the football, hoping to carry its positive momentum, but the Indians quickly turned the ball over.

Abernethy added to his all-around day, intercepting Williams in Indian territory.

Byrne has been impressed with the play of Abernethy — one of three senior captains — so far this season.

“Dylan is just a great overall player, but he’s an even better kid,” Byrne said. “He’s the leader of the team. He works so hard in practice. The younger kids see it. It rubs off on them. He’s a great leader and great person. It’s a pleasure to have him. He’s a threat wherever he goes.”

The Indians would eventually get the ball back and score for the lone points of the third quarter for either team.

Williams’ one-yard touchdown plunge with 2:18 left in the third quarter pulled the Indians within 20 points. He finished Friday’s game completing 15-of-23 passes for 119 yards and also rushed eight times for 11 yards.

Not to be outdone, Rhodes capped his five-touchdown day with a 40-yard strike to James — their third connection of the game — to add an exclamation point to the 27-point non-conference win for the Blue Devils.

Byrne was also thrilled with the play of the 6-foot-3 James on Friday night.

“Brennan James showed tonight that he’s a heck of a player, too,” Byrne said. “We can be explosive offensively if we can get our run game going. I know (St. Stephens) was taking away the run, but the pass game was pretty good tonight.”

Maiden heads into its bye week with momentum, but it faces a stiff test out of the break against county rival Bandys, which lost a heartbreaking 12-9 contest to Bunker Hill on Friday night.

“Next week, we’re going to work to get ready for them,” Byrne said of the Trojans. “It’s one game at a time. We can’t control them. It doesn’t matter what happened to them this week. It doesn’t matter to them moving forward. It’s all about us and controlling what we can control. That’s how we work, practice and prepare to execute against a very good football team coming up.”