Patriots hammer Hawks

By Eric Jones – ejones@journal-news.net

CHARLES TOWN — It’s not very often Kendell Smith gets a chance to score on special teams.

So when the opportunity arose in Washington’s game against Skyline on Saturday, Smith was going to do whatever it took to find the end zone.

He did just that, scoring on a blocked punt in the third quarter.

That was the second of two touchdowns for Smith, and one of just a number of big plays for Washington in a 63-0 win over the Hawks.

“I was just trying to block my man, and then I just saw the punt get blocked and got the ball,” Smith said. “I saw that the guy in front of me was smaller, so I knew I could use a stiff-arm on him. I was trying to do whatever I could to get to the end zone. The last 10 yards, I was just trying to stay inbounds.”

The Patriots (3-3) scored a number of different ways against the Hawks. Washington scored on the ground, through the air and on special teams. It all added up to a shutout win that snapped a three-game losing streak for the Patriots.

“We had a rough three weeks,” Washington coach Mark Hash said. “We feel like if two or three plays against Sherando and against Handley go our way, we’re sitting at 5-1.

“We think we’ve got a pretty good team. If we play well in all three ares of the game — offense, defense, specials teams — we’re tough to beat.”

It was special teams that got Washington the lead early, accounting for eight of Washington’s first 12 points.

On Skyline’s second offensive possession of the game, the Hawks were stopped. On fourth down, the Patriots’ Mark Beacraft blocked the punt, setting up Washington at the Skyline 8-yard line late in the first quarter.

The Patriots came up with three points on a 22-yard field goal by Kaleigh Pierce, who also had a 25-yard field goal midway through the second quarter to give Washington a 12-0 lead.

After Pierce’s second field goal, the ensuing kickoff turned into two points for the Patriots after the ball was dropped by a Skyline player, who was eventually tackled in the end zone by Washington’s Jaquez Fields for the safety and a 14-0 Patriots lead.

Though Washington got plenty more on offense, the 14-point lead was plenty enough as the Patriots’ defense stifled the Hawks offensively. Skyline managed just 128 yards of offense, including a sparse 15 yards through the air.

It was sort of a rebirth for the Washington defense, which also forced three Skyline turnovers.

“Defensively, we think we’re a pretty good team. The past few weeks, we haven’t showed it,” Hash said. “We rededicated ourselves to that this week.”

Offensively, the Patriots racked up 442 yards of offense, including 273 on the ground. The rushing game accounted for five of Washington’s seven touchdowns.

Colin Gustines, who had a game-high 159 rushing yards, and Matt Harris each had a 12-yard touchdown run in the first half as the Patriots led 20-0 at halftime.

The running game continued to do damage in the second half as Washington’s offense hit full throttle.

On the Patriots’ second offensive possession of the second half, Gustines ran 38 yards for a touchdown after starting up the middle, then bouncing outside on his way to the end zone. The score was set up by a 39-yard pass from Harris to Smith.

Gustines followed that up with a 1-yard score on Washington’s next possession, giving Washington a 35-0 lead after three quarters.

The Patriots’ offense scored three more times in the fourth quarter, including a 53-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline from Harris to Smith, who caught four passes for 125 yards.

Smith’s scored on the punt block came next, followed by touchdown from Patrick Baylor and Jake Kidwell.

“We have a bunch of guys on offense can do some damage,” Gustines said.