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GW operating at full throttle

George Washington's Ryan Switzer is healthy and ready to go, which is bad news for the rest of the teams in the state.

The senior tailback rushed for 265 yards on 31 carries with two touchdowns and returned an interception 61 yards for another score in leading the Patriots past Hurricane 41-15 Friday night. A crowd of about 2,000 attended the Class AAA showdown of state-ranked teams at Steve Edwards Sr. Field in South Hills.

It was Switzer's first full game of the season since suffering a concussion and shoulder injury in the season-opening win at South Charleston. He missed the following home game with Paul Blazer of Ashland, Ky., which was a loss, then returned last week in a victory at St. Albans racking up 233 yards on 10 carries with three TDs but only played about two quarters.

"I took some licks,'' said Switzer, who has signed with North Carolina. "[Hurricane] hit great, but I just kept bouncing back up. Anybody that tells you sitting out is fun is lying.

"It's not good. I'm just glad I'm back out here healthy and helping my team win. This is the first game we've had everybody healthy. Other [teams] have played four games with all their guys. We're still not where we want to be, but we're going to get there.''

Switzer staked GW (3-1), which was tied with the Redskins (2-2) for No. 12 in this week's state ratings, to a 21-0 lead in the opening half, scoring two TDs in the span of just a few minutes.

The 5-foot-10, 173-pound Switzer jumped a route and returned the pick for a score that put the Patriots in front 14-0 with 52.2 seconds left in the first quarter.

Then, after a Hurricane punt, Switzer made two defenders whiff near the line of scrimmage and in a flash was gone for a 52-yard score and a 21-0 advantage with 10:52 left in the second period. After that run Switzer had 111 yards on 10 carries in just a little over a quarter of play. Switzer had an 80-yard TD called back later in the second quarter.

Hurricane seized some momentum just before halftime. The Redskins defense forced GW to give the ball up on downs at the Hurricane 39-yard line and, four plays later, junior quarterback Austin Hensley hit junior Zach Pate for a 29-yard score to close to 21-7 at the break.

The Redskins turned the ball over on their first two possessions to open the game and could never recover. The Patriots turned a lost fumble and interception into their first two scores and never looked back.

"You give their home-run hitter too many chances ... Switzer is special,'' said Hurricane first-year coach Jeremy Taylor. "You just pitch to him and let him run.

"It's just ridiculous how fast he is. You can't simulate that in practice. He's a heck of a talent. They're a great team. I think we're a pretty good team, too.''

After two GW drives stalled to start the third quarter, Switzer struck again, toting the ball 28 yards on the third play of the drive for a 28-7 lead with less than five minutes to go in the period. Just before that he took a lateral 27 yards.

Hurricane's Hensley found junior Steven Handley in the left back corner of the end zone for a 30-yard score on second-and-21. After a bad snap on the extra-point attempt, senior Zach Cooper hit junior Alex Wolford over the middle for the 2-point conversion and a 28-15 deficit with 11:52 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots' offense was just too much, though, as senior quarterback Trevor Bell scored on a 17-yard scamper up the middle on a nice fake handoff on the ensuing possession and put GW up 34-15 with 8:33 to go.

The GW defense forced Hurricane to turn the ball over on downs the next time around and Patriots senior fullback Dustin Crouser put the finishing touches on the win wit a 7-yard score, dragging several defenders into the end zone to set the final score.

"I thought we were pretty businesslike this evening,'' said GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. "Hurricane forced us to have to execute.

"They're a good football team. They scheme real well, they play real hard and they play with confidence. I was fairly pleased with the way we answered. We had to match the intensity and that's what we talked about this week. We were healthy for the first time in a long time. I'm seeing a lot of good effort.''

Hensley finished 11 of 28 passing for 178 yards with one interception. Redskins junior wide out Koi Turner had four catches for 58 yards and junior running back Steven Handley led the ground game with 40 yards on nine carries.

Before Friday's game, GW inducted a group of 11 into its Hall of Fame. Those included Chip Carte, Scott Williamson, Jay Harris, Donnie Miller, Danny Vogelbach, Tim Wilcox, Stan Thomas, Jerry DeJamette, Shawn Clark, Jimmy Evans and Steve Edwards Sr.

Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkinson@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.

 


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