Clarke County edges Strasburg

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

BERRYVILLE — Strasburg head coach Mark Roller didn’t get a win on Friday night, but he got the kind of effort he’s been looking for all season from his team.

The Rams hung tough with undefeated Clarke County before falling, 30-14, in Bull Run District action.

“I told them I was proud of the way they played. We’re still not there yet, but they left everything out there tonight,” Roller said. “I think our defense played well. Our offense struggled at times, but our kids’ effort was the best it’s been all season long and that’s what I’m the proudest of.”

Trailing 21-7 at the half, Strasburg scored on its opening possession of the second half. The Rams moved the ball 63 yards on 10 plays. Strasburg quarterback Mark Smoot found wide receiver Papoose Steed for a 13-yard touchdown with 6:28 left in the third quarter.
The team traded punts before Strasburg recovered a Clarke County fumble at the Strasburg 9-yard line with 9:23 left in the game.

Smoot was sacked in the end zone for a safety to extend the Eagles’ lead to 23-14 with 9:15 left.

“We had our chances, but we just shot ourselves in the foot,” Roller said. “It’s been the story of our year, but our guys played great. I can’t fault them for that.”

The Eagle put the game away on the ensuing drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Sean McDonald to Vince Zduoba with 6:18 left in the game.

The Eagles (4-0, 1-0 Bull Run) are known for their effective and tricky single-wing rushing attack, but McDonald threw three touchdown passes against the Rams.

“We had to scramble around, but Sean made the plays,” Clarke County coach Chris Parker said. “Our receivers did a good job when they had to. It’s what the doctor ordered on those plays — we needed them.”

Strasburg (1-3, 0-1) was able to stop Clarke County on its opening drive. The Rams moved the ball on their first possession, but the drive stalled at midfield.

The Eagles used 12 plays to go 77 yards on their next drive. McDonald capped it off with 4-yard touchdown run with two seconds left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.

The Rams came right back with a ground attack of their own. Colton Funk carried the ball five times on Strasburg’s seven-play, 58-yard drive. Funk’s 3-yard touchdown run tied the game at 7-7 with 8:21 left in the first half.

On Clarke County’s next possession, the Eagles ran the ball eight times for 38 yards. On third-and-10 from the Strasburg 14, McDonald connected with his brother, Brett, for a 14-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 3:51 left in the first half.

Clarke County’s defense held Strasburg to a three-and-out on its next series and the Eagles scored quickly.

Clarke County went 78 yards on just four plays. Sean McDonald found running back Hunter Rogers for a 41-yard touchdown pass with 33 seconds left in the first half and a
21-7 edge.

“Strasburg is always a good game. We know it was going to be a scrappy dogfight,” Parker said. “We didn’t really play our ‘A’ game tonight, but that’s a lot to do with Strasburg. We had opportunities in the first half that we didn’t take advantage of and it got us out of sync.”

McDonald threw for 94 yards on 4-for-5 passing, and also had 124 yards on 20 carries. Hunter Rogers also had 99 yards on 19 carries.

Smoot threw for 128 yards on 14-for-25 passing, and Funk ran for 70 yards on 14 carries.
Roller said there were a lot of positives that the team can take away from the defeat.

“I think playing a team like Clarke County [close], hopefully that will boost the confidence of the kids, and inspire some of the younger kids to start playing a little bit more,” Roller said. “We played a lot of young kids tonight and they did pretty well.

“Even though we lost, I thought this was probably the best game that we’ve played all year long.”