William Monroe drops Strasburg
STRASBURG – Strasburg High School’s football team lost its final regular season game – and perhaps more than that – as William Monroe laid a 38-7 win on the Rams on Friday night in Bull Run District football.
Both the Rams (final regular season 7-3 overall, 4-2 district) and the visiting Dragons (6-4, 4-2) had found their ways into the playoffs.
Strasburg is guaranteed a home game in the first round of the 2A East Regional post-season, while William Monroe will enter the 3A East playoffs. Final decisions on the opponents and game dates will be decided by the Virginia High School League on Sunday afternoon.
The Rams entered this game tied with East Rockingham for sixth place, according to power points, in the 2A East. Their power figure (21.889) matched that of East Rock.
Buffalo Gap was just ahead of the two-fifth in the region-with 22.00 points.
But the loss on the scoreboard may not be as significant as a potential loss on the roster.
In the first half, senior quarterback-linebacker Ethan Duckworth suffered a left knee injury. He returned after halftime with the knee wrapped in gauze. He was on crutches and wearing a warmup jacket over his uniform.
In his place came the Rams’ No. 2 signal caller, Brody Tomblin, a sophomore who was best known for his three interceptions on defense.
Tomblin did the best he could, completing 6 of 11 passes for 50 yards, but he also threw two interceptions.
“Brody did the best he could under the conditions,” said Strasburg coach Mark Roller.
Duckworth, who had thrown for 900 yards this season, was injured while taking on a block with 6:12 showing in the first half. The Rams had just scored to tie the game at 7 apiece.
He was helped off the field, and his teammates reinforced his departure by holding the Dragons to a missed field goal with 4:22 to go in the half.
On its possession, Strasburg quick-kicked on third down, leading to three straight possessions ending with scores for William Monroe.
“I really don’t know what his situation will be, just that he came off the field,” said Roller.
Already the Rams were playing without standout lineman Ryan Day, a 6-5, 265-pound two-way lineman. Day was held out with concussion protocol after having been injured late against Central two games ago.
Dragon quarterback Malique Shackleford (a 6-2, 240-pound senior) was a hand full all night, and with other skilled teammates, the team was going to be difficult to contain, even with Duckworth in the lineup.
Shackleford accounted for five touchdowns, running for four and passing for one.
He amassed 60 yards on the ground and completed 9 of 10 passes for 218 yards.
Backup quarterback Jaekwon Wayne rushed for an 81-yard touchdown and intercepted a pass and backup runner Cameron Hayes totaled 61 yards on the Proctor Field Rams Stadium turf.
James Collins caught a 40-yard pass and made a theft and Kam’ron McCain caught four passes for 113 yards and one score.
The Dragons drove 88 yards for a touchdown that opened the scoring as well as the second quarter.
The big play on the drive was a pass from quarterback Shackleford to James Collins that carried 36 yards to midfield.
Shackleford did most of the rest of the damage with his feet on the possession, as he dialed his own number with a nine-yard run to the 1. He then stepped into the end zone from 1-yard out. With the kick, William Monroe led 7-0 with 11:07 left in the half.
Strasburg responded impressively with a 60-yard drive of its own.
Running back Austin Miller (nine carries, 39 yards) ran for 13 yards and then received a pass from Duckworth for the same distance.
Then, fullback Joshua Pritchett broke tackles on a 25-yard excursion to the eight. On fourth down and inches, it was Pritchett who got the call for the score. The kick was good to tie the game at 7 with 7 minutes left in the half.
On William Monroe’s next possession, Strasburg’s defense and offense lost Duckworth. He was helped to the sideline while trainers looked at his left leg until intermission.
Without its senior leader, Strasburg’s subsequent possession failed and the Rams quick-kicked on third down.
But Shackleford was dealing. He found Jalen McKinnie for 28 yards, then went back to the same youngster for 12 yards to the Strasburg 14. Two plays later Shackleford carried over from the 6 for the Dragons’ second score. The point-after was blocked. The Dragons led 13-7 with 28.7 seconds left in the first half.
Shackleford rushed for 50 yards and two touchdowns and completed 8 of 9 passes for 160 yards. Both statistics came in the first half.
William Monroe’s defense was responsible for its next 13 points.
Roller and the purple-clad Rams decided to go for a conversion on a fourth-down-and-seven but Miller lost 10 yards on an attempted halfback pass.
On second down, Shackleford scrambled out of the pocket and found McCain for a 58-yard run-and-catch for a score. The kick was no good but the Dragons led 19-7 with 6:11 left in the third quarter.
On Strasburg’s next possession, the Rams’ punt was blocked by Greg Sizemore deep in Ram territory.
Sizemore then carried the ball to the 1 and then Shackleford forced his way in from there. The kick made it 26-7 with 3:51 left in the third period.
Again, William Monroe’s defense stifled the Rams in the fourth quarter. A Dragon fumble recovery led to an eight-yard touchdown run by Shackleford. Even though the Rams blocked the extra point, the visitors were on top 32-7 with 5:41 left in the game.
Wayne shook loose against Strasburg backups for his 81-yard topper.
“It was a good game and we thought we did a good job in the first half,” said Roller.
The Rams rushed for 88 yards and passed for 83 more. Duckworth was good on all three attempts for 33 yards. Tight end Grant Scott hauled in three passes for 44 yards.
The Dragons have won four of their last five games. The Rams had won two in a row prior to Friday.
William Monroe 0 13 13 12–38
Strasburg 0 7 0 0–7
WM: Shackleford 1 run (kick good), 11:07
S: Pritchett 1 run (kick good), 7:00
WM: Shackleford 6 run (kick blocked), 28.7
WM: McCain 58 pass from Shackleford (kick failed) 6:11
WM: Shackleford 1 run (kick good), 3:51
WM: Shackleford 8 run (kick blocked), 5:41
WM: Wayne 81 run (kick failed), 1:43
First downs 14-8
Rushing yards 244-89
Passing yards 218-83
Comp-Att-Int 9-10-0 9-14-0-2
Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-1
Penalties 8-4,McKinnie 4-12, Hayes 8-615 4-20
RUSHING-WM: Shackleford 19-60, Sizemore 6-30, McKinnie 4-12, Hayes 8-61. SHS: Duckworth 2-5, Tomblin 4-5, Miller 11-39, Carter 1-12, Pritchett 3-25
PASSING-WM: Shackleford 9-10, 218. SHS: Duckworth 3-3, 33; Tomblin 6-11, 50
RECEIVING: WM: McCain 4-113, Collins 1-40, McKinnie 4-43. SHS: Scott 3-44.