By: Josh Michael
FRONT ROYAL - The Warren County Wildcats needed a defensive stand in the final seconds of the game to hold off Strasburg, 28-20, on Senior Night.
Strasburg drove 80 yards down to the Warren County 11-yard line with under a minute to go, but the Wildcats' defense stood their ground and stopped the Rams on four straight plays to hold on for the hard fought victory.
The game was a tale of two halves as the first half saw just 14 total points with each team getting into the end zone once, but the second half was a whole other story.
Warren County opened the half with a fumble on their first play to give the Rams great field position at their own 45-yard line. It did not take long for Strasburg to capitalize as they needed just three plays to drive 55 yards, which was capped off by an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mark Smoot to Matthew Clutter for a 14-7 lead.
That would be the last time Strasburg would hold a lead. Warren County answered right back with a 66 yard drive of its own that saw senior running back Kristian Deal punch it in from four yards out to tie the game. Deal did not wait long to give the Wildcats the lead for good as he ran it in once again on their next drive, this time from 17 yards out.
"I couldn't do anything without my line, they got a huge push and I got two backs leading for me, and I just couldn't do anything without my teammates," said Deal of his second half performance.
The two other backs Deal was mentioning had good games on the ground as well, as fellow seniors Demetrus Yates and Josh Newman also ran for touchdowns on senior night. Yates had a game-high 160 yards on the ground and needed just 16 carries to do so. He got the scoring started in the first quarter with a 57-yard scamper after breaking two tackles at the line of scrimmage.
"Those guys are seniors, but a lot of them are first year starters, we still feel we have a ways to go as an offense, but I felt like as the game went on, we started playing a lot better," said Wildcats coach Tony Tallent on his three-headed rushing attack.
Strasburg pulled within one point late in the third quarter courtesy of a 45-yard touchdown pass by Smoot to none other than his brother, Ryan Smoot.
The real drama came at the end of the game when the Rams, who had to convert two fourth and longs earlier to keep the drive going, and trailing by eight, reached the Wildcats 11-yard line, only to fall just short.
"You couldn't script it any better, as long as the ending comes out the way it did," said Tallent in response to the win on Senior Night.
On the flip side, the Rams have seen this a lot this season as they have been right there in their losses, but just fall one or two plays short.
"It's been one of those seasons, where your so close, but we can't find that way or edge to win one of these close ones," Strasburg coach Mark Roller said.