By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s varsity football team notched a big win in big rain last Friday, beating Bull Run District foe Strasburg High School 6-0 at Strasburg. It was the Mustangs’ first road win in a little less than four years. The Mustangs are now 4-2 on the year and 2-1 in the district, while the Rams are 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the district.
“It was a big win for us … and it was also a really muddy game,” said Tony Green, head coach of the Mustangs. It rained three out of the four days prior to the match in Strasburg, with more than two inches of precipitation on Thursday and Friday combined.
“It was a wet field and there was a lot of weather involved,” Green said. “But we persevered to win the game.”
Neither team had much offensive production. The Rams dominated possession against the Mustangs, notching 152 yards of total offense to George Mason’s 96 yards. But for the second week in a row the Mustang defense grabbed three interceptions and recovered a fumble to lead the team to victory.
“Turnovers happened – we had a fumble,” Green said. “But we also had three interceptions and one fumble recovery. So we won that turnover battle in the mud, and that was important.”
Senior fullback Connor Rhodes coughed up the Mustangs’ only turnover in the second quarter. But he redeemed himself later in the quarter when he intercepted junior quarterback Mark Smoot’s pass and ran it back 47 yards for the only touchdown of the game. Freshman defensive back Dustin Green had the Mustangs’ other two interceptions.
Sophomore linebacker Marcellus Piper made the fumble recovery for George Mason. Piper was part of a defensive front that Green said “played outstanding” for the Mustangs. Piper teamed up with junior defensive lineman Davis Hagigh in the fourth quarter for a key sack of Smoot on fourth and long when the Rams had the ball on the Mustangs’ 34-yard line. Hagigh also sacked Smoot to end the first half.
“They were stopping the run. They were pressuring the quarterback and when our defensive line is going well that means our two linebackers, [Piper] and Hunter Sulc, they make lots of tackles,” Green said.
After Piper and Hagigh’s sack led to a turnover on downs, the Mustangs were able to run out the remaining time on the clock thanks to a few big runs from sophomore running back D’Montae Noble, who only had 79 rushing yards against the Rams.
The Mustangs’ continued to create turnovers in the secondary in their first game without starting junior defensive back Sam Selby, who is out for the season. According to Green, Selby has a three to six month timetable for recovery from injury.
“We’re going to miss Sam, he did a lot of stuff for us,” Green said. “But he’ll be supportive of us moving forward and we’ll be supportive of him in his rehab. He’s a good player for us. We’re going to miss him a lot.”
Moving forward, the Mustangs are preparing for a Friday night home game against Warren County High School, a team that’s also 4-2 overall and with a 2-1 district record. The Wildcats are fresh off a victory on Monday night over Manassas Park High School. Green said the Mustangs don’t have to be perfect against the Wildcats, but can’t afford a lot of mistakes either. He said that since Warren County play an attacking defense the Mustangs have counter that with an aggressive offense.
“We’re going to have to attack them. We can’t just sit back and wait for them,” Green said. “They’re an attacking defense so if we sit back and wait, they’re going to give us a lot of trouble.”