CHARLES TOWN — After taking a 9-0 halftime lead, Preston came out in the second and continued to mount their offense against Washington to end the night at 22-0 on Friday night.
For Preston coach Mark Deep, it was the spark his team needed after a brutal first half as they headed into the final three-game conference streak.
“I feel good, we should feel good as a team,” Deep said. “We are similar, us and Washington. They run the gauntlet in the Eastern Panhandle, we run the gauntlet in North Central West Virginia. There is no break. We are competitive with each other.
Washington coach Glen Simpson noted the Patriots killer was a litany of mistakes. He also said his team was not ready to go home.
“We had too many costly penalties, some problematic turnovers,” he said. “I just didn’t prepare them to win, I didn’t prepare them to play the way I needed them to play.
“I have to do a better job. That’s it.”
The first half was, in a word, dry. Despite multiple efforts by the Patriots offense to find momentum, including an interception with excellent field positioning, nothing clicked.
The Knights stuffed Washington (1-6) on several rushes and scored an interception and a fumble recovery, as well as forcing a turnover on downs and collecting a safety on a bad snap that sailed into the end zone and then a been kicked out of bounds.
The Knights (1-6), on the other hand, broke early when Riley Land found the end zone on a 76-yard open field run. Safety would come in shortly after a compromise in turnovers, making it 9-0 early in the second quarter.
After halftime, the Knights continued to march to their shutout victory. It started with a 1-yard run from quarterback Dillon Taylor, was pushed further by a 44-yard interception return by Ethan Harper, and ended with the extra run attempt with 6:54 remaining.
“Honestly, defensively, it was just stopping that pitch,” Deep said. “Really, there were no adjustments. It was just to go out and stick to the plan we had and get them started. It was simple, let’s take it from them. If they were down, it’s hard for them to come back in this attack, and we knew if we got them through, it was in our favour.
The win was needed for the struggling Knights, who were winless through Friday. Last week they were crushed by Bridgeport who also run a single-wing playbook. In that game, the Indians totaled 390 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
“We’ve had some Top 10 teams in the past few weeks in Triple-A, and with a roster of 34, you’re wearing yourself out,” Deep said. “It was nice seeing our kids, and we talked about it, reaching out and grabbing something. You have to take it from everyone; no one will give you anything. We needed this.
Considering there aren’t many teams in West Virginia that run a one-wing program, let alone in the Eastern Panhandle, that can often swing in favor of the Patriots. Still, when asked if he believed Preston was ready for his playbook, Simpson basically said no and that there were slight differences between the two playbooks.
“Bridgeport, we share some things, but they have a different flavor,” Simpson said. “Our single wing is not their single wing.”
Note, Logan Comer was shaken on the interception and did not return to the field. Although he left with help, no updates were available on his condition. Rodrigo Delgado also left the game in the dying minutes, working on a previous injury. No updates are available for him either.
Washington returns to action this Friday with a road game at Musselman. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.