CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Billed as a showdown between two of the state's two top defenders, Spring Valley's visit to George Washington proved to be just that.
For roughly 18 minutes, that is.
For the final 30 minutes, 2011 Kennedy Award winner Ryan Switzer put on an exhibition of speed, body control and domination in a 42-7 Patriots (5-1) win.
Switzer ran for 310 yards and five touchdowns on 18 carries. He scored on runs of 33, 52, 10, 66 and 41 yards.
"I just started running. Credit our offensive line. They're a smart group," said Switzer, who had 6 yards on his first six carries before averaging 25.3 yards per carry on his final 12 carries.
"They may not be the biggest or the strongest, as you saw tonight. But they're all smart, and they play with a lot of heart."
It wasn't until GW's fourth possession when Switzer finally found his footing. The teams traded punts throughout the first quarter as GW linebacker Dustin Crouser and his Spring Valley counterpart Elijah Wellman traded stops.
That changed early in the second quarter. The Timberwolves began a drive at the GW 31 yard line with a run up the middle by Ryan George. The Spring Valley (3-3) senior gained 5 yards but was stripped of the ball. Wellman picked it up and advanced to the GW 7 before being brought down by Jacob Jackson.
However, on third-and-goal from the GW 3 Wellman was dropped for a 6-yard loss by Crouser. Sam Brody missed a 26-yard field goal on the next snap, and GW took over at its own 20.
Crouser, a University of Charlotte football recruit, had three tackles for loss in the win. Wellman, headed to WVU, had one.
"We knew it was going to be a physical game," Crouser said. "I think that gave us a momentum swing. That seems to be when we caught fire."
Switzer said it was a classic of good defense triggering productive offense.
"That was huge. Our guys bucked up and got a stop," Switzer said. "Credit Jacob Jackson for tracking him down and running him down before he scored, too. That was a big turning point for us, I thought, and we were able to capitalize."
Switzer scored from 33 yards out on the Patriots' sixth play of the drive. After holding Spring Valley to a yard on its ensuing possession, GW got a 52-yard touchdown run from the Kennedy winner, and the Timberwolves' wing-T offense was put into a game of catch-up in which it could not keep pace.
"They did a great job of getting him in space, and we just couldn't get to him," Spring Valley Coach Brad Dingess said of Switzer. "It was a close ballgame and we had opportunities."
GW outgained Spring Valley 419 yards to 191. The Timberwolves were held 117 yards in the second half after falling behind 21-0 by intermission. Of those yards, 34 came before both teams removed their starters.
It was the second consecutive 42-7 win over the Timberwolves for GW. The Patriots beat Spring Valley by the identical score in the first round of the 2011 Class AAA playoffs.
GEORGE WASHINGTON 42, SPRING VALLEY 7