King William ends Rams’ playoff run

STRASBURG — It was just one of those nights.

Strasburg had plenty of opportunities in its 37-12 Group 2A first round football playoff loss to King William on Friday night, but any time they had any momentum it would quickly slip away.

“We got down into the red zone and drives stalled,” Strasburg coach Mark Roller said. “I don’t know how many times we did that, but we did it a bunch tonight. We couldn’t finish a drive, and that’s something we’ve been able to do all year long. Part of it was on us, and I think another part of it was on their defense and their pass defense.”

Strasburg’s first drive of the night stalled in the red zone, and it was sign of things to come.

King William responded by using 10 plays to march 77 yards down the field to take the lead. A 41-yard pass from Jacob Jones to Jamal Johnson gave the Cavaliers an 8-0 lead with 2:33 left in the first quarter.

The Rams (7-4) had another drive stall in the red zone, and again the Cavaliers scored on the following drive. King William had a 12-play, 77-yard drive capped off by a 16-yard touchdown run by Devin Berry-Tucker for a 15-0 lead with 1:55 left in the first half.

The Cavaliers (9-2) rushed for 168 yards in the first half, but that was just the tip of the iceberg for the King William rushing game. The Cavaliers took over and dominated the second half with their running game.

King William senior Camajae Peatross ran for 302 yards on the night on 28 carries. As a team, the Cavaliers rushed for 499 yards.

“Tonight [Peatross] really turned it on,” King William coach Dylan DeHart said. “He was taking some hits. That’s a very physical football team over there, and he took some hits and stayed on his feet. I think him protecting the ball and running hard is ultimately what made us successful. It’s a true testament to our offensive line.”

After Strasburg’s opening drive of the second half stalled, the Rams scored on one play on their next possession. Strasburg quarterback Mark Smoot connected with Trevin Howard for a 77-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 15-6 with 3:22 left in the third quarter.

King William quickly responded on just three plays. Peatross ran for eight yards, then quarterback Jacob Jones carried it for 38 on the next play. Peatross capped it off with a 45-yard touchdown run to give the Cavaliers a 22-6 lead with 2:38 left in the third quarter.

“The run has been difficult of us all year long,” Roller said. “They were just able to take off and just run it. I thought we did a pretty decent job early on of stopping them, but there, as I think we got tired, they were just able to go through us, and they did. When you got guys that can run like they do, they’re in the secondary pretty fast and down the field pretty fast.”

King William scored again on its next possession with Jones connecting with Johnson for a 15-yard touchdown pass. On the ensuing kickoff, Strasburg senior Noah St. Clair returned it 73 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 30-12 with 11:39 left in the game.

“Noah’s done a great job for us all year long, and you give him a seam and he’s fast enough to score,” Roller said. “As tired as he was, I was surprised that he was able to get it in. He played pretty much every down. . It’s one of those things where those guys — they left it all out here. I commend them for that, and I’m proud of them and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Strasburg was able to recover an onside kick, but again had a drive stall in the red zone, and the Cavaliers answered with another touchdown.

King William will now play at top-seeded Riverheads next week. DeHart said he feels like his team hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves, but this win will help with that.

“We’ve been averaging over 450 yards per game, but people have talked about our competition and they haven’t given us our credit,” DeHart said. “So we knew we we’re going to come out in a tough atmosphere tonight, and we wanted to show what we were made of and to prove ourselves. I think we took the right step in doing so. Next week’s going to be tough. It’s going to be real tough.”

Against the Rams, King William racked up 590 yards of offense.

Strasburg managed only 46 yards rushing, while Smoot threw for 215 yards through the air.

Despite the loss, Roller said he was proud of what the team accomplished this season, including winning six straight games heading into the playoffs. The Rams turned things around after a 3-7 season last year.

“They should be proud. It’s like I told them ‘you can’t let what happened tonight dictate what you did throughout the season,'” Roller said. “To win six straight games – that’s a pretty good feat to get.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com