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Hurricane wouldn't mind shootout vs. GW

At first glance, you'd think tonight's game pitting Hurricane at George Washington has to be a high-scoring one.

The Redskins, after all, average 43 points and the Patriots 39. Plus, in five of their six combined games, opponents have scored at least 21 points.

However, Hurricane had trouble getting anything going in two games against GW last year, and that figures to be the sticking point tonight as a pair of 2-1 Class AAA teams vie at Steve Edwards Sr. Field in South Hills. Kickoff is set for 7:30.

"I kind of hope [it's high scoring] because it means we're scoring,'' said Redskins coach Jeremy Taylor. "I hate to put our defense out there like that because we're pretty young. But if it's a shootout, I think we have a chance. If we can get points on them, it says something.''

Hurricane faced GW and talented tailback Ryan Switzer twice last year and came up empty on offense each time.

The Redskins were held to a net of 110 yards in a 35-0 regular-season loss, and managed just 183 yards in a 33-6 second-round setback in the playoffs.

Switzer, meanwhile, eclipsed those totals all by himself. He carried 17 times for 195 yards and three touchdowns in the first meeting and, in the postseason, added 245 yards and four scores on 26 rushing attempts.

"This kid can flat-out fly,'' Taylor said of Switzer. "It's amazing to watch him run the ball. He's a kid that comes along every 20 years or so. I played against [DuPont's] Randy Moss, who was 6-5 and could run and jump - just a freak of nature. But [Switzer] gets that big jump and goes.

"You can't take anything away from their offensive line, either. He gets to the second level and it's tough for anybody to tackle him. There's a reason he's going to North Carolina besides a great education. The reason they want him is he's fast, he's smart and he's got vision like nobody else.''

GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. was happy his team - and Switzer - got their timing back in last week's 68-23 conquest of St. Albans. Switzer, one of several injured Patriots, played only half of one quarter in GW's first two games because of a concussion.

"It sure was nice,'' Edwards said. "We had most of our guys back. We didn't have everybody back, but we're getting to where we feel comfortable with our lineup. A lot of kids we had called on earlier to do some jobs they hadn't normally done are getting better at doing a nice job.''

Taylor, meanwhile, would like to see his team regain some of its timing following a second-half letdown in last week's 35-34 loss at Woodrow Wilson - a game the Redskins led 27-13 at halftime.

Hurricane failed to protect quarterback Austin Hensley, who was sacked five times in Beckley after being tackled for loss just once in the first two games.

"It was all mental breakdowns on pass protection,'' Taylor said. "One was his own fault for running outside the pocket, two were my fault for changing the protection after our base protection had worked pretty much all night, and on the other two the backs went to the wrong side. But every Saturday and Sunday you see guys making millions of dollars or guys on Division I scholarships giving up sacks.

"If you throw 34 times, you're going to give up a sack or two. It's the nature of the game. You can't completely fault the offense. Woodrow has some good athletes and we made a lot of mental mistakes and I made a bunch of mistakes not sticking to what we did in the first half. We beat ourselves, and I think we realize that.''

Hensley, with 835 passing yards, comes into the game trailing South Charleston's Jon Alexander by 12 yards for the lead in the Mountain State Athletic Conference. Hensley's 11 TD tosses are four more than any other MSAC player.

"He does a nice job of spreading the ball around,'' Edwards said. "They have some good athletes, and he's getting the ball in their hands.''

Edwards also took notice of Hurricane running backs Zach Pate and Steven Handley, who combined are averaging more than 13 yards per carry.

"Pate, at this point in the season, is having a real nice run,'' Edwards said, "and Handley hasn't even really begun yet. He's waiting to break out, and I hope he doesn't do it this week.''

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.

 


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