By Alex Moore
The George Mason High School football team suffered its first defeat of the season last Friday, losing 22-21 at home to an aggressive Strasburg Rams squad in a game that was close until the very end.
With the defeat, the Mustangs’ record fell to 5-1. Strasburg advanced to 3-3.
This high school football game followed a different script than recent Mustang contests, when the team has taken early leads and never surrendered them. In this one, Mason traded punches against a tough opponent and never led by more than seven points.
Strasburg opened the scoring with a three-yard touchdown run in the first quarter before pushing the score to 8-0 with a two-point conversion. Next, the Mustangs countered with two scoring drives of their own. First, Mason senior running back Finn Roou capped a 19-play drive in the second quarter off with a two-yard touchdown, and after halftime he followed up with a nine-yard scamper.
The Rams soon evened the game at 14-14, scoring a touchdown and failing on a second two-point conversion attempt. A 30-yard breakaway from junior running back Jack Felgar would return the advantage to the Mustangs with five minutes remaining in the game, but it wouldn’t be enough.
The Rams turned over the ball on downs on their next drive, giving Mason a short field and an opportunity to close out the game. However, the Mustangs then committed a momentum-killing penalty, as they had several times throughout the evening, and quickly returned the ball to their opponents.
With less than three minutes remaining, Strasburg found a spark. Three big plays moved the Rams across the field for a touchdown, after which they would attempt — and succeed — on yet another two-point conversion to go up for good, 22-21.
For the Mustangs, the loss was disappointing, especially considering how a slew of penalties seemed to disrupt a team that’s had played with strong discipline throughout its season. “I think the penalties held us back,” said Mason coach Adam Amerine after the game. “We just can’t afford them since our offense isn’t designed to rely on chunk plays.”
After the game, Roou and senior offensive lineman Mitchell McKeon both said they’ll encourage teammates to move on and start focusing on the Oct. 20 contest against Mason’s crosstown rivals, the Marshall Statesmen.