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By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG -- Stonewall Jackson and Strasburg began their county rivalry in both teams' football season opener Friday night when the Generals hosted the Rams.
A fierce battle ensued as the two teams relied heavily on their running attack for much of the game to ignite offense. After a slow start, Strasburg took the momentum from the opening drive of the second half as they wore down the Generals en route to a 28-22 victory.
"We tired out as a team," Generals coach Dick Krol said. "The kids came out ready to play and we did well, but we gave up too many big plays."
The Rams' defense fed off the momentum from their offense but the Generals quickly responded. A pair of big runs from Anthony Peacher and Trevor Warner helped Stonewall move into Strasburg territory quickly. First, Peacher gained 10 yards on an option play, and then Warner added 20 yards when he took a counter run through the left side of the Strasburg defense before being stopped by the Rams' secondary.
A few plays later on a fourth-and-3 attempt, quarterback John Michael Pirtle scored on a 27-yard misdirection play to extend the Generals' lead to 10 points. The advantage was short lived, however.
On the first play from scrimmage, Strasburg's Rakwon White ran through Generals' line and then turned on the speed as he delivered on a 65-yard run to allow the Rams to draw to within two points.
"White is an outstanding running back and he is going to get his yards," Krol said. "But you can't give up 65 yards in one attempt. That was one of our mistakes that changed the game."
With the Generals taking over possession in the fourth quarter, Stonewall hoped to slow down the Rams. Attempting an option play again, Pirtle sent the pitch stray this time. An opportunistic Troy Gordon scooped up the ball for the Rams and then returned it 55 yards for a score to give Strasburg its first lead of the game.
After the two teams traded possessions, the Generals found themselves with one final chance with 1:37 left on the game clock. Starting deep in their own territory at the 7-yard line, Pirtle was sacked in the end zone as he scrambled against a determined Rams pass rush. The score for Strasburg added to its lead, but more importantly forced Stonewall to give up possession and allow the Rams to seal the season-opening victory with a kneel to the ground.
"The win is very special for our team,' Roller said. "It's been tough the last few years to start off losing a couple games. You could see how big this was for the kids. Winning is an addiction, it makes you want more."