By Stephen Boyle - email@example.com
STRASBURG -- With 46 seconds to go Mark Roller had a choice. His Strasburg Rams had just scored a touchdown to pull within one point of Manassas Park and he could go for the game-tying extra point or the two-point conversion to win the game. He went for two.
"You at least give yourself a better chance to win the game If you go or two," Roller said. "I just felt that our kids deserved that chance."
Roller continued to play for the win after a successful two-point conversion by calling an onside kick. Freshman Justin Carr kicked out and senior quarterback Troy Gordon recovered to ice a 35-34 victory over Manassas Park. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Cougars.
"They're extremely disappointed," Manassas Park coach Joe McElfish said. "It's tough."
The Rams (8-0, 4-0) have been a tough opponent for everyone this season. After eight regular season games Strasburg is still unbeaten. Something the players were excited about following the emotional victory.
"They're great, they're happy and excited," Roller said of his players. "Tonight was a good game for us."
The coach added that he felt his team played better than they had the past two weeks, and they showed resilience to stifle Manassas Park's comeback. This was the final regular season home game for the Rams, so it was not only Homecoming, but also Senior Night. Senior running back Rakwon White and senior quarterback Gordon lost fumbles on back-to-back drives that the Cougars turned into touchdowns. With 5:04 remaining, Manassas Park's Kenneth Moorman scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Cougars the lead.
"We didn't panic," said White, who rushed for 318 yards and two touchdowns on 45 carries. We knew what we had to do so we just came out, did it and finished it."
On Strasburg's game-winning drive Gordon handed the ball off to White on every single play. The nine-play, 65-yard touchdown drive was all White -- well, almost.
"He got all the yards and he gets the glory, but those five guys [on the offensive line] and [fullback] Darius [Lozado] did all the work," said Roller.
Gordon was also a major offensive contributor. He rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries and also threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Caison. Gordon's biggest play was a 27-yard touchdown run on a quarterback draw in the second quarter. With Strasburg driving down the field they had fourth-and-2 with enough time to run one more play from the Cougars' 27-yard line.
Gordon took the snap and hesitated long enough for the coverage to drop back, then ran behind White until he reached the secondary and was able to explode to the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown at the end of the second half. The score gave Strasburg a 20-13 halftime lead, which proved very important since the Rams were outscored 21-15 in the second half.
The Rams still have two tough tasks ahead of them. They take on Madison County and Central on the road to finish out their regular season.
"When you play in a district like ours, if you don't come to play any give week any team can beat you," Roller said. "The next two weeks are not anything easy for us."