STUART — After suffering a lopsided defeat last week, George Washington got back to its winning ways by running all over Patrick County on Friday.
Three rushing touchdowns from senior Wesley Graves set the tone in the first quarter of what was ultimately a 54-14 victory for the Eagles.
“The offensive line, they’re big and they get everybody out of the way for me,” Graves said of how he found his running lanes. “It felt good to win again. We took a hard loss, but we bounced back from it.”
The Eagles (4-2, 2-0 Piedmont) were pushed around at home last week in a 49-15 loss to E.C. Glass, but they rebounded nicely against the Cougars (3-4, 1-2).
“Football is different from any other sport,” Eagles head coach Nick Anderson said. “If you take a loss in basketball, you can play again the next night, or two nights, same thing with baseball. In football, you’ve got to sit on it for a week, and you stress over it for a week, and you think about the things you should have done better. To get out here and jump out to a three-touchdown lead, it did relieve some stress.”
Meanwhile, Patrick County, despite the loss, accomplished something it hadn’t in the last six meetings with George Washington: Score more than a touchdown.
The Cougars had been limited to just seven points in the last six years against the Eagles, but they broke through with two scores from junior Dae’Shawn Penn on Friday, one through the air and one on the ground.
“It’s tough for us to move the ball when he’s not a part of the offense,” Cougars head coach David Morrison said. “We’ve tried to get the ball to him in a variety of ways because he’s a tough runner. ... A lot of times, he’s that motor that keeps us rolling, along with our offensive line.”
George Washington led wire-to-wire thanks to a quick start from Graves, who scored from 14, 10 and 2 yards away to build a 20-0 lead in the opening quarter.
The Eagles took a 34-0 advantage into halftime following a 65-yard passing play from Sha’Kobe Hairston to Zavion King and an 18-hard rushing score from Willie Edmunds Jr.
“We don’t talk enough about the guys up front, and I think that’s why [the running backs) were more successful tonight and weren’t successful last Friday,” Anderson said of the offensive line. “We did not play as well ]as we should have up front [against Glass]. We played a lot better tonight.”
Patrick County got on the board at the start of the third as quarterback William Sprowl found Penn for a 67-yard score.
George Washington responded immediately with Shyheim Watlington’s return for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff. For good measure, Graves and Edmunds Jr. found the end zone one more time each, from 62 and 23 yards out, respectively, before the end of the third.
Penn rushed for a 5-yard score with 8:20 to play in the fourth quarter, when the game had long been decided.
“They’re a very well-coached team. What they do, they do it very well,” Morrison said of George Washington. “They’ve got running backs that run the ball very hard, they’re excellent up front, they fly to the football defensively and they tackle very well. You’ve just got to take your hat off to a team like that and say we’re gonna lace them up again next week.”
Parker Cotton is a sports reporter at the Martinsville Bulletin and Danville Register & Bee. You can reach him at (276) 638-8801 ext. 215. Follow @ByParkerCotton.