Nobody knows better than Grant Wells that George Washington’s offense needs to become more efficient this season.
The Patriots were held to two touchdowns or fewer seven times in 11 games last year as they suffered through their first losing season since 2005, finishing 5-6. As GW’s quarterback, Wells wants to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
GW and Wells head into the regular season feeling perhaps a little better about themselves after a decent showing Saturday in the Mountain State Athletic Conference Grid-o-rama at University of Charleston Stadium.
The Patriots battled Cabell Midland to a 14-all draw in the first half of their final preseason scrimmage. With both teams using backups in the second half, GW tacked on two field goals by Michael Hughes to depart with a 20-14 win.
Wells completed 11 of 24 passes for 134 yards in two quarters, including a 38-yard touchdown pass to Dakota Cosby, who also had GW’s other TD on a 2-yard run. At least four passes were dropped by Patriots receivers.
“It was hot and cold,’’ GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. said of his team’s offense. “The offense is usually always behind a little bit, but we did some things right. We just weren’t executing all the time, dropping a lot of balls still. And [Cabell Midland’s] pretty good, too, a real good football team.
“We’ve just got to execute a little better and do some things, and maybe we can put some points on the board.’’
Wells hit seven different receivers on the day, with his first six completions going to six different receivers. Alex Mazelon led GW with three catches for 54 yards.
Having already accepted a scholarship offer from Marshall, Wells wants to amp up his skills heading into college. In each of the last two seasons, Wells has completed less than 50 percent of his passes, a fate caused by several factors.
“I think it’s a little bit of everything,’’ Wells said, “the line, me … but it’s all about where it’s finishing up this year. Put the past in the past, try to forget about all that and work toward getting better. I definitely think this team is the best I’ve ever been on, and I think we’ll definitely back that up come the season.’’
Wells plans on graduating from GW in December before he heads off to Marshall, which means he’ll leave his budding baseball career behind. But before he goes, he wants to fix what’s ailed the Patriots’ football attack in recent years.
“It’s definitely looking promising,’’ Wells said. “Today was a good day to show what we have, to work on some things. We’re definitely not a perfect team right now by any means, but today’s a good day to see where we’re at, and what we need to work on.’’
Surprisingly, Cabell Midland flashed a prolific passing game in its first two quarters. Under coach Luke Salmons, the Knights have never been known as a team to put the ball in the air very much, but on Saturday senior Jayce Gould, the team’s new QB, was 8 of 19 in one half for 165 yards and one TD, that going to Zach McCoy.
Chandler Schmidt caught four passes for 112 yards for Midland, and all-state running back Ivan Vaughn carried 14 times for 98 yards and one TD, a 5-yard run.
n George Washington’s opponent in Thursday’s regular-season opener, South Charleston, didn’t fare as well in its MSAC scrimmage, falling to Parkersburg 41-6. However, that advantage was skewed some by the play of the reserves, as the Big Reds led 20-6 late in the first half when they removed their starters. It was 27-6 at halftime.
“I thought our opening drive was as good as I’ve seen out of us in a while,’’ said SC coach Donnie Mays. “We took the ball and moved right down the field and scored and looked good.
“Not making excuses, but we’ve got a lot of guys playing both ways, and they just died. And that was disappointing because we’ve been running the heck out of them, working on them all off-season, all year long. It’s just tough. We’re not very tough right now.’’
Jake Johnson, Parkersburg’s quarterback, hit on 7 of 14 passes for 105 yards and two TDs, a 7-yarder to Tyler Moler and a 24-yarder to Kionte’ Peacock. Moler also had a 4-yard scoring run and finished with 82 yards on 15 carries.
For SC, Shyleik Kinney completed 5 of 10 passes for 76 yards in two quarters after starting out 4 of 4 for 72 yards. Jaydyn Johnson ran nine times for 62 yards and one TD, a 4-yard run, before leaving with leg cramps.
Parkersburg got some bad news as All-State receiver Brenton Strange limped off the field, favoring his right leg. Strange played sparingly Saturday, catching one pass for 38 yards to set up a touchdown.
n Hurricane emerged with a 27-3 victory against Riverside, but with starters in the game, it was a virtual deadlock.
The scrimmage was tied at 3 at halftime and the backups played almost the entire second half. The Redskins led 6-3 entering the fourth quarter and their third-string quarterback, Ismael Borrero, ran for two TDs in the final 4:31.
Christian Hill led Hurricane’s regulars in the ground game with 44 yards on eight carries. Starting QB Nathan Roy was 1 of 5 passing for 13 yards and Austin Womack went 1 of 2 for 50 yards, a long hookup with Nathan Barham. Timothy McCutchen booted two field goals for the Skins.
For the Warriors, Caden Easterling ran 13 times for 62 yards and Kain Ford connected on 6 of 7 passes for 112 yards, two going to Blake Wentz for 54 yards.
Cameron Powell gave Riverside an early 3-0 lead with a 20-yard field goal after his team took its opening possession 67 yards on 13 plays to the Hurricane 3. That 3-0 lead remained until late in the first half.
n In the final scrimmage of the two-day event, Spring Valley downed Woodrow Wilson 38-6.
The Timberwolves’ TDs by the starters came on a 21-yard run by quarterback Nathan Ellis and a 31-yard run by Owen Chafin. Zane Porter also kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it 17-0 at halftime, when most starters left.