Eagles down Rams

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

ELKTON — Strasburg couldn’t catch any breaks against East Rockingham on Friday night.

The Rams had a couple close plays go against them and turned the ball over a few times, which led to a 42-14 rout by East Rockingham in non-district football action.

“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We had our opportunities early and we missed some things,” Strasburg coach Mark Roller said. “Not to take anything away from them, they’re a pretty good football team. We just didn’t step up to their level tonight and match the intensity they brought.

“Anything that we did, it just seemed like it wasn’t our night to be on the football field.”

The Rams had a couple chances on their first drive of the game, but just missed connections on back-to-back pass plays which could have led to big yardage.

“It’s a game of inches,” Roller said. “We had the things we wanted. We just didn’t execute it. …It could have been a totally different game, if we could have gotten those points. What that does, is, it boosts the morale of the team when you’re able to score early and we weren’t able to do that until we were down 21-0.”

The Eagles wasted no time in seizing momentum. Running out of the wing-T formation, the Eagles went 75 yards on nine plays. Eight of the plays were runs, but the one pass play was a big one. East Rockingham quarterback Timothy Sapp connected with Raymond Simpson for 27 yards to the Strasburg 11-yard line. Shannon Cross finished the drive with a 2-yard run to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 6:46 left first quarter.

The Rams held on a fourth-and-1 from the Strasburg 22 on the Eagles’ next drive.

After forcing Strasburg to a three-and-out, East Rockingam’s Simpson returned the punt to the Strasburg 29.

Three plays later, Esteban Ramirez scored on a 19-yard run and a 13-0 lead with 8:57 left in the first half.

“Really proud of our kids,” East Rockingham head coach Donnie Coleman said. “They did an excellent job executing against, I think, a really improved football team.”

A fumble on the next Strasburg drive gave the Eagles the ball at the Strasburg 14. East Rockingham scored on the next play on a 14-yard touchdown run with 8:36 left in the first half for a 21-0 lead.

Coleman said they were a little concerned with Strasburg’s offense entering the game, but he was proud of his defense.

“Coach [Matt] Rhea, the defensive coordinator, had a very nice game plan, and the kids executed it,” Coleman said. “I think it got rolling downhill on them a little bit and that was tough.”

Strasburg finally got on the board with a 25-yard pass from Mark Smoot to Ryan Smoot with 3:49 left in the half to cut the lead to 21-6. The touchdown capped a six-play, 85-yard drive, which included 40 rushing yards by Colton Funk on two carries.

“We needed to get something going,” Ryan Smoot said. “We were moving the ball running a little bit, which was good. I slipped in there, ran a corner route and Mark made a nice pass.”

The Eagles answered with a seven-play, 73-yard drive. East Rockingham’s Jaylen McNair completed a 28-yard pass to Cross to move the ball to the Strasburg 15. Cross took it in from the 1, for a 28-6 lead with 54 seconds left in the half.

“I was real proud of the kids,” Coleman said. “When they scored, we took the ball right down and scored again and kind of answered the call.”

Funk had a 49-yard run on Strasburg’s first play of the next drive to move the ball to the East Rock 29-yard line. After two incomplete passes, Mark Smoot’s pass went off the foot of a receiver and into the hands of East Rock’s Jerrick Diehl, who went down the sidelines 89 yards for a 35-6 halftime lead.

Funk led the Strasburg rushing attack with 115 yards on 11 carries.

“Colton, he did all he could do with what he got tonight,” Roller said. “And his effort has got to be commended, because those guys are pretty big up front and we had a hard time blocking them.”

The Eagles ran for 224 yards, running out of the wing-T formation. They also passed for 154 yards using two different quarterbacks.

Coleman said he wants to have a balanced offense, and was pleased with what he saw from his team in their season opener.

“We didn’t expect that score to be that way,” Coleman said. “They’ll definitely win some ballgames. They’ve got some athletes. I guess, tonight it worked out for us.”

Strasburg’s Cody Darr had a 17-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Strasburg has a bye next week and Roller said he saw improvements with his team from week one to week two.

“Were getting better, it’s a work in progress,” Roller said. “We’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re actually getting better. We did play better [than last week], with the exception of turnovers and the mental mistakes of jumping offsides and those types of things.”