By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Strasburg senior running back Rakwon White sent a message to future Rams' opponents with both his legs -- and a few simple words -- on Friday.
White carried the ball for 168 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries against Stonewall Jackson in the season opener for both squads, and the Rams rolled to a 40-21 victory over their county rivals. It was the third consecutive victory for Strasburg against Stonewall Jackson and a statement win early for the Rams.
"I think Strasburg is back," White said after the game. "We were looking forward to it all week. They're a tough team. We came out as a bigger opponent, worked harder, played more aggressive."
Strasburg (1-0) went to the ground early, and White capitalized against a shaky Generals defense by breaking off a 66-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the game to give the Rams a quick 7-0 lead. White bounced off a tackle up the middle before swinging out and sprinting down the Strasburg sideline for the score.
"First I give props to my line, of course, then the fullback [Darius Lozado]," White said. "Then I just turned on the jets and took off."
On the ensuing kickoff, Todd Dean's low kick bounced off the facemask of a Generals player, and the Rams recovered, advancing the ball to the Stonewall Jackson 29-yard line.
Three plays later, Strasburg quarterback Troy Gordon hit a wide-open hole on a quarterback sneak on third-and-1 for a 6-yard touchdown run. The score put Strasburg up 14-0 before the Generals had a chance to run an offensive play.
"It takes a little air out of the sails," Rams coach Mark Roller said of the quick outburst from Strasburg's offense. "We were able to catch a couple breaks. Not that we were trying to kick onside kicks, but we got a break there at the start of the game."
Stonewall Jackson (0-1) answered with a steady drive under new quarterback Jacob Armell, driving the ball deep into Strasburg territory. But on a third-and-9 play from the Rams' 25-yard line, Armell and senior running back Jared Getz didn't seem to be on the same page, and the poor exchange resulted in a lost fumble.
Stonewall Jackson had five turnovers on the night.
"You could feel the momentum with us drop and everybody was kind of hanging their heads," Getz said. "But it's pretty upsetting because you don't want to start out that way. You never want to start out that way."
Strasburg added another score on a 2-yard run by Dean with 9:11 left in the second quarter to push the lead to 20-0.
The Generals lost another fumble on a squib kick by Strasburg, but Stonewall Jackson forced the Rams to punt on two straight possessions.
The Generals appeared to be headed for a 20-point halftime deficit, but Strasburg's Shawn Owens intercepted Armell's pass on the final play from scrimmage in the second quarter, returning it 71 yards for a touchdown.
"That was real big," Roller said. "To do that and score before the half, that was a big score. [The Generals] were playing really well on defense during the last several series."
Gordon connected with Jonathan Kloosterman for an 18-yard touchdown pass on fourth down of the opening drive of the second half to make the score 33-0, and Dean (13 carries, 103 yards) scored his second touchdown of the night with 11:46 to play to give the Rams a 40-point lead.
Armell (six carries, 95 yards) finally got the Generals on the board with a 41-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper with 8:35 remaining, and Derrick Smith added a 47-yard touchdown with less than three minutes to play.
Armell added a 25-yard touchdown run as time expired to set the final margin.
As if things weren't bad enough for the Generals on Friday, senior defensive lineman Cody McCourt went down with a dislocated kneecap with five minutes to play, further depleting an already-shallow Stonewall Jackson roster.
White's performance for the Rams made an impression on Generals coach Dick Krol.
"White ran like a running back is supposed to run, and we didn't get much in his way to stop him," Krol said. "And again, stupid mistakes -- they had 14 points before we even ran an offensive play."