by Kate Karstens
Hurricane Joaquin played a role in helping the Mustangs to a huge 22-0 win over Strasburg this week. Inclement weather forced George Mason to move up its contest at Strasburg to Thursday, Oct 1. This crucial season win both moved up Mason in the rankings to first place in the Bull Run district, and pushed their district season record to 3-0, with an overall record of 3-2.
The Mustang defense was the only hurricane on the field, forcing four turnovers during the game. The strong defensive effort put the Mustangs in good scoring positions on each drive.
Following Mason’s first touchdown, the first half was scattered with modest offensive gains, however most drives were inconclusive, leaving Mason only one touchdown ahead at the end of the first half. The Mustang defense, led by seniors D’Montae Noble and Hunter Sulc, was responsible for Strasburg’s scoreless game.
“I think that before [last week’s win] we were kind of fighting to have a decent record and now we have a chance as a contender for the district title,” said Sulc. “It’s big emotionally; this is for the first time in years.”
Sulc shone brightest in the first quarter, with a tackle at the 13-yard line on the kick return, and a 10-yard sack on Strasburg’s quarterback, forcing the Rams into compromising positions that Mason was able to capitalize on.
The first touchdown, in the middle of the first quarter, consisted of a 30 yard gain by Noble to Strasburg’s 25, then two more 10 yard gains. Each ball during the run was given to Noble, who ran it in for Mason’s first touchdown, and kicker Ethan Morse kicked in the extra point.
After two incomplete throws, one by quarterback Thomas Creed and one by Noble, Sulc barreled through the defensive line for a gain of 13 yards and a first down. A pitch to Noble put Mason at 1st and goal, but time ran out and the first half concluded with a score of 7-0, Mustangs.
Early in the second half, pressure from Mason’s defensive line, including players Alexander Dorsey, Patrick Lin, and Eduardo Pacheco, forced Strasburg’s junior quarterback into an interception by Sulc, who, with an open field, ran it in to push the score to 13-0.
With excitement high, the Mustangs faked an extra point, fooling the Strasburg defense long enough for Creed to find senior wide receiver, Matt Mineo, who leaped over two Ram defenders to push the score to 15-0 three minutes into the second half.
However, on the ensuing drive, Strasburg pushed the Mustangs back, all the way to Mason’s 30 yard line, before Sulc made three pivotal tackles in a row, forcing the Rams to throw the ball, resulting in an incomplete and Strasburg’s eventual loss of possession.
On the Rams’ next possession, Sulc and sophomore Finn Roou worked together to bring down the Rams’ quarterback in a five-yard sack. “Since Finn’s freshman year, I’ve taken him under my wing,” said Sulc. “We really feed off of each other’s energy, he’s got a great attitude and it’s great playing defense with him.”
The next play was a result of Strasburg’s panic; a third of the offensive line shifted left in an effort to pull the Mason defense from the center. However, the center’s snap skyrocketed over the quarterback, who scrambled for the ball, and in a rush, threw it toward a Ram receiver just as senior Justin Thomas leaped up to snatch the ball, turning the possession to Mason.
Strasburg’s defense forced a turnover of its own, as Rams safety Austin Schlentner picked off a panicked throw by Creed. Running down the sideline, Schlentner had a clear run to the end zone before junior Andrew Coulson made a vital tackle to keep the Rams scoreless.
The hot-potato trend continued as Strasburg’s running back was tackled by Sulc on the Rams’ first offensive play of their next down, who then lost possession of the ball, and resulted in a fumble recovery by Noble.
Dustin Green was responsible for pushing the ball down the field at the end of the fourth quarter, pushing Mason towards a first down, then at first and goal. The final play of the drive, a touchdown run by Green, sealed Strasburg’s fate with a score of 22-0.
“I think we’ll continue to play well,” said head coach Tony Green. “Riverside is a first year school, but we can’t take them lightly. Right now, we’re trying to get our own identity so we have to continue to work on ourselves and just try to get better.”
The Mustangs (3-2) will take on a Riverside High School (0-6) on the road on Friday, October 11, for a game that will contribute neither toward the district or conference record for Mason.