Slow start, dominant finish for GW
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On the verge of wrapping up another high seed in the Class AAA playoffs, George Washington inexplicably came out in a funk Saturday afternoon.
But a couple well-timed bolts of lightning later, the postseason picture cleared up considerably for the Patriots.
Senior running back Ryan Switzer ran for 232 yards on just eight carries, scored six touchdowns in a variety of ways and threw for a seventh score as GW completed the regular season with a 54-17 victory over Parkersburg at Laidley Field.
"Once we got some things squared away, we made some big plays,'' said GW coach Steve Edwards Jr., "and Ryan took over and had a great day today.''
The win locked up the No. 3 seed for the Patriots (8-2) in the AAA playoffs, and they drew Mountain State Athletic Conference rival Hurricane (6-4) in the first round. The date and time of all opening-round games will be determined today.
Switzer scored on runs of 51, 43, 63 and 43 yards, returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown, caught a 5-yard TD toss from Trevor Bell and threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Jordan Clay.
Even with the Patriots' lethargic start, it was reminiscent of last year's game with Parkersburg, a 56-12 GW victory in which Switzer ran for six TDs - most from long distance - and tacked on a seventh via a punt return.
"We talked all week about that,'' said Big Reds coach Don Reeves. "That's been our downfall all year, giving up big plays. I was proud of our kids coming out and playing hard in the first quarter. We controlled the line of scrimmage, I thought, and that's what we wanted to do. But we couldn't turn around and let them score a minute, minute and a half later. We can't keep score with them.''
Deep into the second quarter, go-for-broke Parkersburg (4-6) looked like it was willing to make a game of it, controlling the clock with the powerful bursts of running back Adam Lindamood, who finished with a career-high 49 carries for 240 yards and two TDs.
The Big Reds opened the game with an onside kick (that GW's Jacob Whitlock recovered) and on their first possession went for it (and made it) on fourth-and-1 at their own 29.
With GW ahead 12-7, the Big Reds embarked on what looked like another long drive to retake the lead, picking up three first downs, the final one getting them to the Patriots' 34-yard line.
Then it happened.
As a defensive back, Switzer jumped a deep first-down pass thrown by Aaron Roberts at his own 10 and weaved his way back downfield for a touchdown to help make it 20-7 with 4:30 left before halftime.
"I don't know why we came out flat,'' Switzer said, "but I guess we did. Luckily, we responded.''
Then it got worse for the Big Reds.
After a three-and-out, they punted it back to GW and on the first play Switzer ripped off a 63-yard scoring run.
Lindamood returned the ensuing kickoff to his own 43 and Parkersburg made it to the GW 39 in the final minute running a hurry-up offense, but Patriots linebacker Zach Malone put a stop to that, picking off a Roberts screen pass and returning it 59 yards for a TD with 40 seconds left before halftime to make it 34-7.
The final stats belied the outcome of the game.
Parkersburg led in first downs 19-9, ran 75 scrimmage plays to GW's 26 and held a time of possession advantage of about 39 minutes to nine. It's just that six of GW's plays covered a total of 280 yards - the four Switzer TD runs and Bell completions of 50 yards to Jacob Jackson and 30 yards to Trevon Johnson.
As long as the Big Reds didn't turn the ball over (they threw three interceptions and lost a fumble), they managed to pound it down the field almost every time.
"Defensively, we were not very good today,'' Edwards said. "You look at the score and wonder how, but they kept the ball too long. Lindamood's a good back and they did what they needed to do. They have good size on the line, and they outmanned us a little bit.
"Very lethargic. I wasn't proud of our performance today other than we won the football game, and got the job done, but we weren't pretty doing it. Credit our kids for fighting through it, but we've got a lot of work to do.''
Bell, 0-of-3 passing at halftime, wound up 4 of 7 for 105 yards for GW.
The game also marked the end of an era for Parkersburg's running Lindamood family, as senior Adam Lindamood completed his career following older brothers and fellow 1,000-yard PHS rushers Joey and Matt.
"We knew we had to control the game by running the ball,'' Reeves said. "Our problem right now is throwing the ball. We gave it to him 40 times last time, and  more today. I'm proud of him. The bad part about it: He's the last of the Lindamoods.''
The game had been moved to Laidley's artificial turf from GW's Steve Edwards Sr. Field's grass surface following last week's heavy rain and snowfall.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.