After a sluggish first quarter and dodging a bullet by stopping Spring Valley inside the 10-yard line, Class AAA No. 3 George Washington resigned to playing 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of -dust football.
In other words, the Patriots defense mostly held the Timberwolves to 3 yards or less per play and Ryan Switzer left Spring Valley choking on dust clouds time and time again.
Switzer was held to just 6 yards on five carries in the first quarter, but galloped for 303 yards and five touchdowns on his final 13 rushes as GW blew by the Timberwolves for a 42-7 homecoming win Friday night at Steve Edwards Sr. Field.
The Patriots (5-1) were playing with heavy hearts in their first home game since teammate Drew Morton was killed in a car crash on Sept. 16. Team captains carried Morton's No. 73 jersey out for the opening coin toss and there was a moment of silence observed before the kickoff.
"[The win] feels good," Switzer said. "We're going to keep Drew with us the whole season and continue through our lives. We were trying to come out here and play and play for him."
In order to get that win, the George Washington defense had to make a big stand.
Early in the second quarter, Spring Valley took over on GW's 31-yard line after forcing a third Patriots punt from their own 2. On the first play of the drive, Ryan George ran 6 yards up the middle, fumbled, and Timberwolves fullback Elijah Wellman picked it up and rumbled down to the GW 3.
A penalty for illegal assisting of the runner moved it out to the 8-yard line, but Spring Valley still had a golden opportunity to strike first.
Instead, it was the Patriots' defense that rose up, holding the Timberwolves to minus-2 yards on the next three plays. After Samuel Brody's 26-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right, GW took over on its 20.
"It was a close ball game, we had opportunities," Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess said. "And I thought when we had the ball down there, when we came away with zero points, I thought we laid down for just a little bit."
In truth, an adjustment from GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. finally got Switzer, the defending Kennedy Award winner, going.
After spending the first quarter lining up and running at a physical Spring Valley defense with no success, Edwards went to the spread, mixing the run with the pass and all the while providing his skill players with space to operate.
That's about all Switzer needed. He ended the ensuing GW drive with a 33-yard touchdown scamper, and after the Patriots forced Spring Valley into a three-and-out, opened up the next drive with a 52-yard touchdown run.