By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
BERRYVILLE -- Strasburg coach Mark Roller has plenty of trust in his players. So, when his offensive line told him what play they wanted to run on third-and-3 with the game on the line, he didn't hesitate.
Roller and the Rams ran the power run, and 16 yards later Strasburg had a 20-13 Bull Run District victory over Clarke County on Friday night.
"I love that about them," Roller said of his offensive line. "They have confidence in themselves that they can get the job done."
Facing third-and-3 from the Clarke County 16, Strasburg running back Rakwon White took the ball, made a move to the middle of the field, and as he neared the goal line stretched the ball out while being tackled for the game-winning touchdown with 30 seconds left.
"First off I have to thank my linemen," said White, who finished with 174 yards on the ground. "I knew what I had to do. The offensive line got me a hole, Darius [Lozado] blocked for me. I just got the ball, saw the hole and stretched the ball out over the [goal line]."
The offensive line and the entire Strasburg squad was playing with a little extra incentive throughout most of the game. Starting offensive and defensive lineman Trenton Davis suffered a lower back injury in the first quarter and was taken to Winchester Medical Center after a 15-minute delay. Strasburg athletic director Matt Hiserman said after the game that he had heard from Davis' family and that he was moving around and doing well.
"We knew we had to do this for him," Strasburg senior running back Rakwon White said. "He's a very funny guy and he's a real leader. We definitely missed him a lot tonight."
The Rams faced adversity for the first time all season, as the Eagles were able to control things in the first half. Clarke County opened the game with a 17-play, 72-yard drive.
Using their single wing offense, the Eagles methodically drove the ball down the field. Davey Hardesty capped the drive off with a 3-yard touchdown with 3:46 left in the first quarter.
"The first quarter we did a nice job eating the clock up," Clarke County coach Chris Parker said. "At times I thought we moved the ball really well tonight."
Strasburg (5-0, 1-0 Bull Run) was able to tie the game with a six-play 59-yard drive of its own in the second quarter. White carried the ball on five of the six plays, including a 6-yard touchdown with 9:16 left in the first half.
The Eagles (3-2, 0-1) came right back on the ensuing drive. On third-and-6 from the Strasburg 45, Clarke County quarterback Sean McDonald saw an opening in the middle of the field and took off. He cut to the left and raced down the sideline for the touchdown and a 13-7 lead with 6:45 left in the first half.
Each team had the ball for one possession in the third quarter. Both squads put together long drives that stalled. Hardesty punted the ball away on the first play of the fourth quarter and the ball was marked out of bounds at the Strasburg 2.
The Rams didn't let it bother them as they put together an 11-play drive, which quarterback Troy Gordon finished off with a 36-yard touchdown with 6:56 left in the game.
Facing fourth-and-6 from the Clarke County 36, Gordon said a pass play was called, but Roller had told him to take off with it if he saw an opening. Gordon saw the opening, cut back to the left sideline for the touchdown.
"It was awesome," Gordon said of seeing the hole open up. "I just had one man to beat, and I knew I had to do it."
The Rams stopped the Eagles on the next drive, after Clarke county went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Clarke County 44. Hardesty lost two yards on the play, and the Rams took over on downs with 3:06 left in the game.
Strasburg ran the ball seven times, including six carries by White, for the game-winning score.
The Eagles were led by McDonald with 125 yards rushing, while Hardesty had 62 yards on the ground.
"It was a physical game on both sides of the ball," Parker said. "It was a tough one to lose."
Gordon finished with 77 yards on nine carries for the Rams, who finished with 265 yards on the ground.
It was the first district game of the season for both teams, and the Rams knew it was important to start the season off with a win.
"We beat them twice last year, and we wanted to show people Strasburg's back," White said. "And this year we're going to try to go all the way."