CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Spring Valley faced a third-and-goal from the George Washington 3-yard line with 9 minutes left in a scoreless first half Friday night at Steve Edwards Sr. Field.
West Virginia recruit Elijah Wellman took a handoff from quarterback Cody Brown and bounced to the left, avoiding GW linebacker Trevon Johnson in the process of looking to make his way to the end zone.
But as Wellman eluded Johnson's grasp, Patriot linebacker Dustin Crouser emerged from a pack of players and strung Wellman's run toward the sideline. By the time Crouser wrapped his arms around him, Wellman was back at the 9 and dropped for a 6-yard loss.
It was the tipping point in what became a 42-7 rout for the Class AAA No. 3 Patriots (5-1).
"I thought being able to keep our composure there - they had just gotten a nice little break - was important for us," GW Coach Steve Edwards Jr. said.
"Early in the game, both teams were pushing and shoving in a good way, playing hard. Our kids bowed their backs a little bit, and I'm proud of them for doing that."
Faced with a 26-yard field-goal attempt from the left hashmark, Spring Valley's Sam Brody missed wide right.
Afterward, it took GW just six plays before senior Ryan Switzer took control of the Patriot offense with a 33-yard touchdown run. It was the first of five scores for the 2011 Kennedy Award winner and North Carolina recruit.
"After that field goal, momentum jumped ship," Edwards said. "They had it for a second then it jumped on our back and, well, we're not going to try to kick (Switzer) out or anything."
It was perhaps the best manifestation of the Switzer/Crouser combination in the players' standout careers. Switzer finished with 310 rushing yards on 18 carries while Crouser - a University of Charlotte recruit - had three tackles for loss and led a defense that held the Timberwolves (3-3) to 48 total yards from the time of Brody's miss until the teams removed their starters in the fourth quarter with GW ahead 42-0.
"We practiced for this all week. We knew it was going to be a physical game. I knew it was going to be a physical game," Crouser said. "This was definitely, defensively, our best game of the year.
"We came to play. Our defensive line and linebackers came hard. It was relentless."
The Patriots regularly packed 10 defenders into the box against the Spring Valley wing-T set, which produced only 12 passing yards before starters were removed.
"That's the best defensive player in the state," Switzer said, pointing to Crouser after the win. "I expect this kind of performance from him. He brings it everyday in practice and workouts, and I've had the good fortune of being able to play with this kid.
"I know what he's about. Maybe it's surprising to some people but I know he's the best in the state."
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