By Spenser Leatherman - firstname.lastname@example.org
CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Strasburg senior running back Rakwon White charged through the holes of the Washington (W.Va.) defense.
White rushed for 184 yards on 22 carries, finding the end zone three times, and blocked a punt for a safety as the Rams defeated the host Patriots 29-14 at Terry L. Marcus Stadium Friday night.
"He's a legit back," Washington coach Mark Hash said of White. "He was a load for us, standing about 6-foot-3 weighing about 215-220 pounds and was very impressive."
In the first half of play, White was held to 12 carries for 37 yards, but Strasburg found another way to bring the ball up the field with Troy Gordon.
The Rams converted a pair of third downs with a 4-yard gain White and 48-yard run by Gordon before White found the end zone on a 3-yard run to give Strasburg a 7-0 lead.
After recovering the ensuing onside kick, the Rams drove the ball up the field, but ended the drive with a three-and-out. On the Patriots' first possession of the contest, Strasburg nearly cashed in on a scoring opportunity.
On third-and-5 at the Patriots' 26-yard line, Patric Baylor threw an interception to Todd Dean. Dean returned the ball to the Patriots' 5 before fumbling the ball through the back of the end zone for a touchback, giving Washington the ball back.
The Patriots' offensive struggles continued throughout the first half as they earned only a pair of first downs.
"We're struggling offensively," Hash said. "We have not been able to pass the ball very well in the first couple of games in the season. We've been trying to work hard on getting that down, but have not been able to do so."
White blocked a punt by Dante Washington in the end zone for a safety to give the Rams a 9-0 lead. Strasburg took advantage of another Washington miscue as they recovered a fumble lost by Colin Gustines on the 25-yard line.
White ran for three carries for 15 yards before Gordon made a cut past Patriots cornerback Bryan Bayliss for a 15-yard touchdown scamper to give the Rams a 16-0 advantage going into the halftime break.
The running lanes opened up in the second half for Strasburg.
On the Rams' first possession of the second half, White, Gordon and Dean collaborated for a six-play, 83-yard touchdown drive capped off with a 35-yard run by White to increase their advantage to 22.
Strasburg scored again on its next possession with a 34-yard run by White to make the score 29-0 with 11:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots attempted to come from behind, rallying around Gustines for a pair of touchdowns, but came up short.
"Colin's a tough kid," Hash said of Gustines. "He's strong, competes hard and is a good athlete. He showed us he can do a lot of different things including throw the football.
"You know what you're gonna get on a daily basis from him."
Gustines commanded a 12-play, 66-yard drive from the wildcat formation to score Washington's first points of the night followed by a successful two-point conversion pass from Michael Grant to Garrett May to make the score 29-8.
Gustines commanded another nine-play, 66-yard drive to cut the deficit to 15 before Strasburg ran out the clock.