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By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Big defensive plays, and just enough offense, combined to produce a 14-7 win for the Handley Judges over the Washington (W.Va.) Patriots in the first Friday afternoon football game since the 1940s at the Handley Bowl.
Senior linebacker/running back Dexter Sloane made big contributions to both dimensions of the Judges' game.
Sloane broke away for a 32-yard run on second-and-8 from the Patriots' 36, then punched the ball across the goal line on second down for the winning touchdown with 5:29 left in the third quarter.
Sloane had a game-high 101 yards rushing, was credited with 4.5 sacks, and made several tackles for losses, to help prevent the Patriots' offensive gears from meshing.
"[Key to defense], I got the plays off and I know my assignments, and my teammates doing their job," Sloane said.
Sloane committed a fumble on first down with 4:54 remaining in the game. He turned around on defense and sacked Patriots quarterback Tyler Wilt for an 11-yard loss on the ensuing series.
A principle reason the Judges' (2-3) defense had to notch up their game is that the offense has been operating with freshman quarterback Will Dearing since senior Harrison Bayliss received a concussion during the Martinsburg (W.Va.) game Sept. 10, and has not been medically cleared to return to action.
"Defensively, we've progressed," Judges coach Tony Rayburn said. "We were out on the field a lot and still only gave up one score.
"Offensively, we're a work in progress, is probably the nicest was to put it. We're still making a lot of dumb mistakes. We changed our formation a bit to try to get some guys the ball who don't normally get to carry it."
Running back Chris Skinner, in his second game since transferring from James Wood, supported his new team by scoring Handley's first touchdown on a 32-yard scamper on a pitch-out from Dearing, with 5:00 left in the first quarter, set up by Dearing's 18-yard pass completion to Jawaun Goynes on first down.
"Basically, we talked a lot about offense and how it was either gonna help us, or break us," Skinner said. "A lot of our guards and tackles had great blocks for me, so I could run outside. Jawaun Goynes had an excellent block. That was about it. That was all she wrote after that."
The Patriots' (2-3) lone score came on a drive that was salvaged by quarterback Tyler Wilt's 24-yard scramble, on third-and-5 from the Handley 42, out of a broken pass play.
After Colin Gustines broke off a 17-yard run to the Handley 7-yard line, Wilt glided into the end zone on a keeper as the first quarter expired.
Larnelle Patterson gained 67 yards to lead the Patriots' running attack.
The Judges kept the Patriots bottled up in the fourth quarter to protect their slim one-touchdown lead.
Handley sophomore linebacker Jordan Dowrey recovered a third-and-21 fumble by fullback Tyrek Collier to end Washington's first drive of the quarter.
On the Patriots' next possession, Wilt was sacked by Sloane for an 11-yard loss, and was taken down on the next play for an additional nine-yard loss.
Sloane had another 11-yard sack, on third down, with 4:00 remaining in the game.
Washington's last drive, starting with 2:08 on the clock, was also short-circuited, as 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive tackle Derek Dowrey sacked Wilt for a six-yard loss and Goynes intercepted Wilt's desperation pass on a fake punt at the Judges' 44-yard line.
"[Handley's] size was the deciding factor, especially on the offensive side of the ball," Patriots coach Mark Hash said. "Defensively, we stunted the fire out them and it did a pretty good job."
Rayburn said he was pleased with how Dearing did in his first start at quarterback.