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Strasburg takes out Panthers

By Brian Eller - beller@nvdaily.com

SHENANDOAH -- It's a phrase Michael Reynolds has waited so long to say, the one that upon realization slapped a huge grin on the face of coach Mark Roller.

Strasburg football is on a winning streak.

For the first time under Roller and the first time since 2007, the Rams have won back-to-back games, as the Purple and White pounded Page County on Friday night, 36-22.

Five touchdowns, including four on the ground, helped Strasburg pry away at the Panthers' defense, vaulting the Rams to within a game of .500 for the season.

"It feels great," Reynolds said. "It reminds me of the Strasburg football teams I watched when I was younger. Now we're the ones on a streak."

For the senior, his time as the Rams' starting quarterback hasn't been easy. Losing seasons sprinkled with only a handful of wins left Reynolds with something to prove this year, a promise that despite the outcome, a foundation would be put in place for the future.

But in the first half, Strasburg's defense looked as if it were playing for the future, rather than focusing on the task at hand in the form of Page Country's first-year single-wing offense. Using running backs Kenny Deavers and Travis Prince, the Panthers opened up with a 75-yard drive highlighted by a 65-yard run by Prince to put the home team ahead 6-0.

"Our defense struggled in the first half, " Roller said. "I think we came out a little flat and weren't really ready for what they were bringing. I told the kids we needed to settle down, focus and get the intensity up."

Fortunately for the Rams offense, the intensity was there from the start, as Strasburg used a one-play drive to find the end zone on its first series. Reynolds found running back Rakwon White on a screen pass and watched as the sophomore took it 53 yards for the score.

Page County answered back late in the opening quarter however, as quarterback Pete Monteleone connected with wideout Cole Shuler for a 41-yard score, putting Page County back ahead 12-7. A field goal would push the Panthers' lead to eight.

Despite the struggles on defense, Strasburg held tough as the Rams mounted a scoring drive with less than a minute left in the half, culminating with a 7-yard run from White. White would score on the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 15 heading into halftime.

It was Homecoming at Page County, and at halftime the schools' king and queen were named in front of fans and alumni. That would be the final highlight of the evening for Panthers' fans however, as Strasburg took control in the third quarter.

Three scoring drives in less than eight minutes and a forced fumble helped the Rams break open the game, as running backs Bradley Hough, Billy Mann and Reynolds each rushed for a touchdown, giving Strasburg an insurmountable 21-point lead.

"Everybody knows we lost two good running backs from last year, but we've got so many guys back there that can make plays," Reynolds said. "We've got some good sophomores in Rakwon, Todd [Dean] and Brad and Billy. We're able to do a lot of things on offense."

It wasn't all good news for Strasburg. With the game in hand midway through the fourth quarter, Dean was slow to get up after a handoff up the middle. He had to be helped off the field and was later placed in an ambulance with his right leg wrapped.

As for the Rams still on the field for the final play, the drooped heads and slow walk to the locker room that were once so commonplace for the Rams had been replaced with cheers of victory and a swagger that has appeared in recent weeks.

"It's just so great," Roller said. "The kids I'm sure are ecstatic right now and they should be. They've worked hard and have a lot to show for it."


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