By Jessica Manuel - email@example.com
CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- It came down to the last minutes, but Washington (2-1) was unable to take the ball into the end zone, losing 28-21 to Sherando (2-1) on Friday.
Sherando took the early lead, starting the game off with a 41-yard run by George Aston. The Warriors pushed their way down the field to get the first touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run by Aston.
Washington answered with a touchdown of its own on the Patriots' last possession of the first half. Colin Gustines took the ball on the Patriots' first play and ran it down the field 52 yards for a touchdown. With Kaleigh Pierce's extra point, the game went into the second quarter tied.
"What you see out of Gustines, you see every week," Washington coach Mark Hash said.
Gustines had 137 yards and completed three of his four passes for 32 yards.
Gustines and Matt Harris switched at quarterback throughout the game, and it was Harris who took care of the second touchdown.
He connected with Kendell Smith for a 24-yard touchdown pass with nine minutes left in the half. Pierce's kick was no good, giving Sherando the advantage on its next score on the following possession.
Sherando quarterback Reid Entsminger ran the ball 23 yards, but it was his 23-yard pass to Branden Litten that gave the Warriors the jump they needed. Just five yards out, Entsminger handed the ball off to Aston, who ran in for the touchdown. With the extra point good, the Warriors went into halftime up 14-13.
"We're going to win this game," Hash said he was thinking as the game went back and forth.
After an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown by Gustines and successful 2-point conversion, a win by either team wasn't out of the question. The Patriots went into the fourth quarter leading, 21-20.
A 59-yard pass from Entsminger to Daniel Eppard swung the momentum back into Sherando's direction.
Entsminger ran for 10 yards, and back-to-back 6-yard runs by Aston put the Warriors on the 1-yard line. Aston took the ball in for the touchdown, and a successful two-point conversion from Entsminger to Eppard put Sherando up 28-21.
"We did a lot of things to hurt ourselves tonight," Sherando coach Bill Hall said.
Moving themselves back on 10 penalties, the Warriors continued to stop their own forward progression. A penalty negated a 30-yard pass just before halftime and another run that would have put Sherando within 15 yards of the end zone on its first possession of the third quarter.
In contrast, Washington only had two penalties, but they came at crucial moments.
The Patriots had a 10-play series as the clock ticked away towards the two-minute mark.
After two incomplete passes by Matt Harris, Washington went for it on fourth down. Harris connected on a 31-yard pass to Bryan Bayliss for a first down across the field.
Gustines took over at quarterback and got the team just yards away from the winning touchdown. A flag backed them up to the 7-yard line, changing their momentum at the worst time.
Gustines threw an incomplete pass and was then sacked as he searched for an open man on another pass play. He had a teammate open in the end zone but couldn't get the pass off before he hit the ground to turn the ball over on downs with 1:43 left on the clock.
"You got third-and-goal at the 1 1/2-yard line, you've got to stay disciplined," Hash said, adding his team needs to stay hungry for the touchdown but also controlled in those situations. Jumping before the snap hurt the Patriots just too much.
A few mistakes by the defense on Washington's end changed the game, according to Hash.
"We had a couple breakdowns defensively," he said. "You take those away and it's a different ball game."
The first loss of the season left a bitter taste in the Patriots' mouths, and Hash is happy with that reaction because it means the players care.
"In the years past, this wouldn't bother them," he said. "These guys know what we're capable of and what kind of team we have."
Washington has two weeks to remember that feeling before that head to Handley, looking to get back in the win column.