STRASBURG -- Chase Hart hasn’t played in the secondary much this season, but on Friday night he showed what he can do as a defensive back.
The Strasburg senior had two interceptions, including one for a touchdown, to help the Rams to a 39-6 Bull Run District victory over East Rockingham.
“That was awesome,” Hart said of his two interceptions. “(Strasburg defensive coordinator) coach (Tripp) Lamb’s been holding out on me. I’ve been like put me in at safety, I’m going to get a pick and he didn’t believe me.”
Hart, who is also Strasburg’s starting quarterback, said he prefers to only play one way. But he said he doesn’t mind also playing defense if that’s what the team needs him to do. Going up against East Rock’s spread offense, the Rams needed him to play at safety for the second time this season.
The Rams intercepted East Rock quarterback Tyce McNair on the Eagles’ first three drives of the game. Each interception halted an East Rock drive deep in Strasburg territory.
Hart intercepted McNair and returned it for a touchdown on the first possession of the game, but the return was negated by a Strasburg penalty.
The Rams (5-1, 2-1 Bull Run) needed just six plays to take advantage of the turnover. Hart, who has committed to play for William & Mary College next season, connected with a wide-open junior wide receiver Trey Stinnette on a 34-yard touchdown for a 7-0 Strasburg lead with 6:56 left in the first quarter.
“It was a good play call,” Stinnette said. “With the line blocking well, Chase (Hart) had enough time to throw the ball to me. It was just a good throw and I just had to grab it.”
East Rock (2-4, 1-2 Bull Run) once again drove into Strasburg territory on the next possession. The Eagles moved the ball to the Strasburg 17. On third-and-11 from the 18, McNair was intercepted by Strasburg senior Peter McKenchie with 2:20 left in the first quarter.
The Rams have struggled at times in the secondary this season, and entered Friday’s game with just three interceptions as a team. Strasburg had three against East Rock.
“We’re starting to play a little bit better,” Strasburg coach Mark Roller said of his secondary. “We’re starting to learn how to play back there in the secondary, and those guys have been around for a while. As long as we keep building from game-to-game, from week-to-week we’ll be fine.”
The Rams’ third and biggest interception came on East Rock’s next drive. Facing a third-and-13 from the Strasburg 18, Hart once again intercepted McNair’s tipped pass. The pass went through the hands of Strasburg senior Justin Day and right into Hart's hands. Hart then returned it 88 yards for the touchdown and 13-0 lead with 3:27 left in the first half.
“I just remember seeing, (McNair) rolled to the left, and I saw (Strasburg linebacker) Da’Neil (Holliday) tip the ball,” Hart said. “Then I thought Justin Day was going to get it and then I just caught it right in stride. I timed it up right and just took off.”
Roller said that Hart has the ability to find the ball and make plays on defense for the Rams when he is called upon.
“He’s one of those guys we need to put back there,” Roller said of Hart. “He’s got a knack for where the ball is going to go. He was in the right places. We knew coming into the season he was going to have to play a little bit for us and tonight was one of those nights.”
The Rams (5-1, 2-1 Bull Run) used a trick play to extend the lead before halftime. Strasburg running back Trevor Sager threw a halfback pass to Stinnette for a 29-yard touchdown with 1:39 left in the first half and a 19-0 lead.
Sager said he had actually hurt his hand right before the play happened, but it didn’t affect his throw.
“I wasn’t expecting that because that was right after a (punt),” Sager said. “And I had just smashed my hand and my hand was bleeding and my hand was hurting. (Roller) said ‘is your hand good,’ and I said ‘yeah.’ He called it. I saw Trey open so I just threw it out to him. That was a big play. That was a lot of momentum right there, especially on something like that.”
The Rams scored on the second play of the second half on a 65-yard touchdown run by Sager to put the game out of reach.
“I wasn’t really expecting it at first, because I don’t really look for big ones,” Sager said. “I just look for the biggest hole I can find and then hit it as hard as I can. Then (on the touchdown) I think I cut it back across the field and I just saw a bunch of green. And I just turned on the jets and I just ran and I didn’t look back.”
East Rock senior running back Colton Dean led its offense with 138 yards rushing on 26 carries.
Sager led the Rams with 123 yards on six carries and had two rushing touchdowns. Hart went 3-of-4 for 44 yards passing. Stinnette had four receptions for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
The Rams’ defense bent at times but didn’t break, holding East Rockingham to one fourth-quarter touchdown.
“This is by far the best game we’ve played -- in all phases,” Hart said. “We kept them out of the end zone from the red zone a bunch of times -- it was great. We just got to keep getting better. We just got to come in (today) and keep getting better.”
The Rams play at winless Madison County next week. Sager said the Rams’ win over East Rock shows what the Rams are capable of.
“Everybody knew we had potential, but we hadn’t really shown it to the full effect yet,” Sager said. “But I think tonight was a sneak peak to what we have. And I think it’s going to open some eyes. And everybody’s going to realize that this is who we can be and they’re going to respect us a little more.”