Rams roll to win over East Rockingham

STRASBURG – Strasburg’s football team may have even surprised itself Friday night.

Facing an East Rockingham squad fresh off one of its best seasons in the program’s short history, and a team that had beaten the Rams handily in head-to-head meetings in each of the last two seasons, it was Strasburg that walked off the field at Ram Stadium with a 29-14 victory.

“At the beginning of the season you always go over who you think your wins are going to be and this was definitely not one of those where we were like, ‘Yeah, we’ve got it,'” Rams senior Austin Schlentner said. “We had our best week of practice by far this week and … intensity was the biggest thing I think. A school like that, they always come pumped up, screaming and yelling and stuff. I think we really flipped the tables on them and got them.”

While Strasburg’s defense came up with several key stops on Friday night – including a pair of timely interceptions – the Rams’ offense put together two long, methodical drives to seize control of the game.

The biggest came in the second quarter, when the Rams marched 82 yards on 12 plays – 10 rushing – to the end zone on a drive that spanned over seven minutes and gave Strasburg (2-0) a 13-7 lead. The touchdown, a 15-yard run by senior Justin Carr, answered a 69-yard scoring run by East Rockingham’s Austin Morris on the previous drive.

“I think that drive was what won us the game,” said Carr, who had 102 yards rushing on 20 carries, a 42-yard receiving touchdown and snagged an interception at the goal line in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. “I think right there is when everyone inside felt that we could win.”

Strasburg’s first long touchdown drive of the night may have changed the face of the game, but it was the Rams’ defense that generated the first round of momentum. On East Rockingham’s second drive of the game, Schlentner jumped a slant route and snared an interception on a pass from Eagles quarterback Chris Rogers (11-for-19, 115 yards) before racing 44 yards untouched to the end zone to give the Rams a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

“I saw (the receiver) lined up a little crooked and I saw the quarterback eyeballing him,” Schlentner said, “and I’m just like if this isn’t a slant and they throw this deep ball, this is the end of my high school career. (The receiver) was really jumpy and as soon as he made that cut I jumped up and that ball was right there. Once I touched it I was going. No one was catching me.”

The Rams carried a 13-7 lead into halftime and used another seven-minute scoring drive that spanned the third and fourth quarter to take a two-touchdown advantage. Strasburg, which used 11 runs on the 13-play drive, converted a fourth-and-1 from its own 37 early in the drive to set up an eventual 1-yard plunge by junior quarterback Adam Miller on a sneak.

Miller also converted the two-point conversion to give the Rams a 21-7 lead with 9:47 to play.

Strasburg finished with 251 yards of offense, including 183 rushing. Miller finished with 73 yards rushing and a touchdown while also completing 4 of 10 passes for 68 yards and another touchdown.

It was Miller’s lone touchdown toss of the night that all but sealed the victory for the Rams.

After East Rockingham (0-2) responded to Strasburg’s fourth-quarter score with a quick 62-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard scoring run by Jerrick Diehl, the Rams got the ball back with 6:42 left and looking to drain the clock.

Strasburg used six straight runs to drive 23 yards to the Eagles’ 42 before connecting on its longest play of the night. Coming out of a timeout and facing third-and-10, Miller dropped back and turned to his right to look off the defense before spinning back to his left and finding Carr, who had slipped out of the backfield along the Rams’ sideline, wide open. Carr caught the pass in stride, shook a leg tackle at the East Rock 16 and scampered the rest of the way for the 42 yard score.

A two-point conversion following a bad snap on the extra-point attempt gave the Rams a 29-14 lead with 2:59 to play.

“I knew before (the play) that I was going to have him, and if I didn’t I was going to scramble and let the clock run,” Miller said. “I dropped back, looked off and as soon as I looked back Justin was wide open and it was basically don’t miss him. Just throw it out there, let him catch it. And he took it, then he made a move on that guy and he was gone.”

East Rockingham put together one last drive and drove all the way the Rams’s 3 before Carr stepped in front of a pass near the goal line and picked it off with 14 seconds remaining.

The Eagles, playing without starting quarterback Jaylen McNair (leg injury) for the second straight game, finished with 288 total yards of offense and 173 yards rushing, led by Morris’ 151 yards on 12 carries.

Rams head coach Mark Roller praised his defense’s effort, particularly given the fact that many of Strasburg’s players were going both ways on a muggy night.

“We were putting … nine in the box and hoping they weren’t going to throw it at the time,” Roller said. “When they spread it out we were just going a little man coverage, something we don’t do a whole lot of. We did it this time to kind of slow them down and that worked for some reason.

“I’m not sure what the difference is besides the fact that I think our kids just wanted it more. Hats off to our kids. They have surprised me in the last two weeks.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

Box score
Rams 29, Eagles 14
East Rockingham 7 0 0 7 – 14
Strasburg 7 6 0 16 – 29
First Quarter
S: Schlentner 44 interception return (Knapp kick), 1:31.
ER: Morris 69 run (Comer kick), 0:00.
Second Quarter
S: Carr 15 run (kick blocked), 4:51.
Fourth Quarter
S: Ad. Miller 1 run (Ad. Miller run), 9:47.
ER: Diehl 3 run (Comer kick), 6:49.
S: Carr 42 pass from Ad. Miller (Campbell pass from Howard), 2:59.
First downs 13 13
Rushes-yards 31-173 37-183
Passing yards 115 68
Comp-Att-TD-Int 11-19-0-2 4-10-1-0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 0-0
Punts-avg. 3-27.0 3-35.7
Penalties-yards 7-58 5-40
RUSHING: East Rockingham, Morris 12-151, Comer 2-8, Diehl 6-22, Rogers 8-1, Addison 2-5; Strasburg, Carr 20-102, Ad. Miller 12-73, Pritchett 4-9.
PASSING: East Rockingham, Rogers 11-19-115-0-2; Strasburg: Ad. Miller 4-10-68-1-0.
RECEIVING: East Rockingham, Comer 2-18, Butler 1-9, Constable 1-13, Payne 4-51, Diehl 1-11, Morris 2-13; Strasburg, Schlentner 1-9, Howard 1-8, Steed 1-9, Carr 1-42.