Defense, strong second half propel Rams

STRASBURG – Strasburg’s football team used several key defensive stops to help build an early lead against visiting Riverside Friday night and then rode its rushing attack in the second half to a 27-6 victory.

Taking advantage of a pair of short-field situations, Strasburg scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the game, only to see Riverside – a first-year school located in Leesburg – hang around for the remainder of the first half as Strasburg took a 12-0 lead into halftime. Whatever momentum Riverside had built late in the first half was quickly erased in the opening minutes of the third quarter as Strasburg went 61 yards to the end zone to take a three-touchdown advantage.

“I think we came out with a little bit more energy in the second half than we had in the first half,” said Strasburg coach Mark Roller, whose team improved to 3-0 with the victory. “We moved the ball and scored on each possession there in the second half and I think it was just the energy level of the kids in the second half. I think that was kind of the turning point because they stayed right there with us.”

Relying solely on its rushing attack, led by senior running back Justin Carr, Strasburg began its third-quarter drive at its own 39 and pushed the ball to the Riverside 42 on five plays. Facing fourth-and-2 from there, Carr took a handoff and burst through a big hole on the right side before spinning past a defender at the 38. He raced the rest of the way to the end zone untouched.

“It was funny because before the game I actually imagined myself hitting a spin move,” said Carr, who finished with 137 yards on 12 carries and three touchdowns for his third straight 100-yard performance to open the 2015 season. “… It was a huge hole, I broke out. It was number four (Riverside’s Corey Forst), he was right on me and I had a step to my left, so I stepped left and he committed too much, and I was like here’s my spin, do it now. And I hit the spin and it was just gone. I was so happy when I ran in.”

Strasburg’s defense came right back with a three-and-out on Riverside’s next possession, and the offense answered with a 71-yard scoring march that ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by senior Josh Pritchett (10 carries, 57 yards), giving Strasburg a 27-0 lead with 1:40 left in the third quarter.

Strasburg finished with 281 rushing yards on 38 carries (7.4 yards per rush) and didn’t attempt a pass in the second half.

“They weren’t quite as big so I think we wore them down a little bit in the second half,” Roller said.

Strasburg’s defense sparked the Rams to their first two touchdowns of the night, beginning with a Riverside (0-3) three-and-out on the game’s opening possession that included a third-down sack by Strasburg junior defensive end Dylan Campbell.

Following a short punt that gave Strasburg the ball at the Riverside 38, Carr broke off a 37-yard run on the first play from scrimmage and scored on a 1-yard plunge on the next play.

Strasburg senior defensive end Tyler Brill picked up two sacks of his own on the ensuing drive, the second of which forced a fumble by Riverside quarterback Blake Kinkoph that was recovered by Campbell at the Riverside 17.

Carr found the end zone four plays later for a 7-yard touchdown run that gave Strasburg a 12-0 lead with 2:45 left in the first quarter.

“Coming out we knew we had to do our job,” said Brill, who along with his defensive teammates harassed Kinkoph with a strong push up front for much of the first half. “Had a couple sacks, couple tackles. Everybody on the defense was just doing their job. We just kept sticking it to them.”

Riverside, which fumbled five times in the first half, finally put together a sustained drive following Strasburg’s second touchdown in the first quarter and eventually set itself up with a first-and-goal at the 8. Two runs by Forst put Riverside at the 1, but Strasburg’s defense stuff back-to-back sneak attempts by Kinkoph to keep Riverside out of the end zone.

Strasburg junior defensive tackle Hunter Riley made the stop on fourth down, slicing through the offensive line before wrapping up Kinkoph at the line of scrimmage.

“It got me pumped,” Riley said. “I think it got the team pumped a little bit.”

Although Forst finished with 22 carries for 144 yards, Riverside mustered little offense outside of that. Riverside finished with 211 yards of offense, and its lone score came on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Kinkoph (4-for-8, 44 yards) to Drew Lewis early in the fourth quarter.

“The first thing I thought was a big difference was just their size a little bit,” Riverside coach Brian Day said. “… We’re doing some good things. You can see it. We’re driving the ball down the field, we’re just not finishing very well. Sometimes on the 1-yard line it comes down to strength, and sometimes if you ain’t got it, you ain’t got it.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or

Box score

Strasburg 27, Riverside 6
Riverside 0 0 0 6 – 6
Strasburg 12 0 15 – 27
First Quarter
S: Carr 1 run (kick failed), 8:45.
S: Carr 7 run (pass failed), 2:45.
Third Quarter
S: Carr 42 run (Howard run), 8:29.
S: Pritchett 2 run (Knapp kick), 1:40.
Fourth Quarter
R: Lewis 11 pass from Kinkoph (kick blocked), 10:08.
First downs 9 13
Rushes-yard 38-167 38-281
Passing yards 44 15
Comp-Att-TD-Int 4-8-1-0 3-6-0-1
Total yards 211 296
Fumbles-lost 5-1 2-1
Punts-avg. 3-27.3 1-45.0
Penalties-yards 1-5 3-15
RUSHING: Riverside, Forst 22-144, Kinkoph 9-10, Sorensen 7-13; Strasburg, Carr 12-137, Duckworth 2-24, Pritchett 10-57, Ad. Miller 1-6, Howard 1-12, Bowers 7-26, Baker 3-11, Knapp 2-8.
PASSING: Riverside, Kinkoph 4-8-44-1-0; Strasburg, Duckworth 3-6-15-0-1.
RECEIVING: Riverside, Pickett 1-29, Lewis 2-15; Strasburg, Schlentner 2-12, Steed 1-3.