By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Friday night's non-district football game turned into a battle of running backs, and Warren County's Gage Steele got the best of it, leading his Wildcats to a decisive 33-19 win over Tuscarora at Warren County High School.
"We really didn't have a lot of answers for Steele," Huskie coach Michael Burnett said. "We don't have a senior class, so we're very young. We just have to get to work, and get stronger so that we can compete with teams like Warren County."
The Wildcat junior truly carried Warren County, rushing for 228 yards in 31 carries and scoring four touchdowns. It was the second time in as many games that Steele has rushed for over 200 yards in a game, which is the main reason the Wildcats (2-0) are undefeated.
"Our offensive line does a tremendous job," Steele said. "They make things real easy out there for me, and I really appreciate that."
While Steele was leading Warren County to victory, first-year school Tuscarora (1-1) showed that it could run the ball as well. The Huskie's primary weapon was junior tailback Cameron Molina, who rushed for 153 yards on 16 carries, tallied 29 yards receiving, and scored a pair of touchdowns for Tuscarora.
"That Molina kid is gong to be one heck of back before he's done," Warren County coach Tony Tallent said.
The lead flipped back and forth through the first three quarters as the gambling Huskies took chances all over the field. When stopped on their own 28 on the first drive of the game, Tuscarora threw caution to the wind and went for it. When Molina was thrown for a two-yard loss on their fourth down try, the Wildcats were able to start their first drive of the game from the Huskies 27.
Unfortunately, a pair of illegal procedure penalties by Warren County prevented them from capitalizing on the Tuscarora gamble.
Rejuvenated by the defensive stand, the Huskies scored on their next possession, thanks to a 54-yard run by Molina.
"I ran as hard as I could," Molina said. "Steele really brings it. He's a real bruiser. We just have to keep working hard and get ready for next week."
Warren County tied the score 7-7 early in the second quarter when Steele scored on a 1-yard plunge. He scored again with just 1:19 left in the first half to put the Wildcats up 14-7.
Undeterred, the Huskies drove the ball 73 yards in six plays to score just before halftime. Tuscarora quarterback Edwin Mends found Molina open in the middle of the field and hit him for a 29-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds left on the clock. An errant pass on a two-point conversion attempt left the Wildcats ahead 14-13 at halftime.
Both teams exchanged touchdowns and failed extra-point attempts gave Warren County a narrow 20-19 lead heading into the final quarter.
"When I talked to the kids before the game I told them that our line had to out-play their line if we were gong to be successful," Tallent said. "I still think that our defense has some work to do but I thought that we played a very solid second half."
The Wildcats, however, dominated the final period, scoring twice to pull away.
"They really came out with a bang and their offense was really impressive," Steele said. "We had to make some adjustments, and were able to take care of things, though."
Neither side had much success passing the ball. Mends managed just three completions in 16 attempts and had two intercepted. Warren County quarterback Tyler Post only attempted two passes, completing one to Damien Caison for 17 yards.
"It's nice to be 2-0, but we really can't rest on that," Steele said. "We have to take each game at a time, and build on this."