It’s been an emotional week for the Georgetown Prep football team. On Monday the Little Hoyas learned that a former teammate and 2014 graduate of the North Bethesda school, Abraham Pishevar, who was starting his freshman year at Case Western Reserve University, was one of four men killed in a plane crash in Ohio.
What should’ve been an exciting time for the team as it geared up for Friday’s start to the fall season — Prep opened at home against Virginia’s Fork Union Military Academy — turned into a time of mourning.
But, trailing 20-3 early in the third quarter — coach Dan Paro credited early season nerves in addition to the effects of recent events — the Little Hoyas found a way to turn their emotions into a positive and passionate performance on the football field and it resulted in a remarkable 27-26, come-from-behind victory.
“It’s been a long week, it’s been hard to practice all week when dealing with this,” Paro said. “This is a young man that we all loved dearly and unfortunately, we have to bury him tomorrow, so everyone’s real emotional. I’m just really proud for the guys because they had that spirit and they knew Abe was with them.”
Paro noted an inspired performance from senior fullback Ryan Rudasill, who was close friends with Pishevar. Rudasill — chants of “Rudy” reverberated in the Little Hoyas’ stadium — rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and took on a heavier load, especially, in the first half while Fork Union focused on standout running back Dage Davis.
It was then Davis’ 45-yard touchdown run on his first pay back from leg cramps late in the third quarter that gave Prep some light. Davis finished with 186 yards rushing, 151 of them in the second half.
After holding Fork Union to four plays on its game-opening series, Georgetown Prep fumbled a lateral that Blue Devils’ defensive back Micah Keels picked up and returned 48 yards to give his team a 7-0 lead. Prep had ample opportunity to even the score late in the second quarter but was unable to score on two attempts from the 1-yard line. A 25-yard field goal from junior Kicker Brian Dolan got the Little Hoyas on the board, 7-3.
Fork Union took its 13-3, first half lead in the final minutes of the second quarter on Rashon Torrence’s 30-yard scamper. Torrence, who Paro described as a special player, finished with 203 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Torrence’s 50-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter after Prep struggled to move the ball at all during its own possession, gave the Blue Devils a 20-3.
Prep scored its first touchdown in the waning minutes of the third quarter on junior quarterback Sean Strittmatter’s 11-yard pass to classmate Patrick Caskin. Prep then won the ball right back as Fork Union fumbled quickly in its possession — Bryant Boswell picked it up — setting Davis up for his 45-yard scoring run.
Torrence answered with a 72-yard rush of his own into the opposite end zone but that was the last time the Blue Devils would score.
“Turnovers killed us,” Fork Union coach Brian Hurlocker said. “[Prep] is always a good team, it doesn’t matter if they’re down, they always play hard.”
Added Paro: “We knew that it’s a four quarter game. There’s been a tradition here to play hard for four quarters. We had to keep believing that something was going to happen. They didn’t turn the ball over the entire first half. Then we got that one turnover and we’re thinking if we can get one turnover, anything could happen.”
A 70-yard Davis run to start the fourth quarter set up Rudasill’s 30-yard touchdown run that cut Fork Union’s lead to 26-24. It was a fumbled punt return recovered by Prep’s Charlie Jones that put the Little Hoyas in position to take the lead for the first time. Though Prep again failed to score on three attempts from the 1-yard line, Dolan converted another field goal to give Prep the 27-26 lead and they held Fork Union for the win.
It was an overall team effort, Paro said, as many players new to the varsity team made vital plays. And it was an important for many reasons.
“Any time you can win your opening game, it’s a special win because it gives you that early confidence,” Paro said. “It’s been an emotional ride this past week. I think certainly [Pishevar’s] spirit was with us tonight.”
Georgetown Prep 27, Fork Union 26
Fork Union (0-1) 7 6 13 0 — 26
Georgetown Prep (1-0) 0 3 14 10 — 27
F — Micah Keels 48 lateral recovery return (Chase Bowman kick)
G — Brian Dolan 25 field goal
F — Rashon Torrence 30 run (kick failed)
F — Rashon Torrence 50 run (Chase Bowman kick)
G — Patrick Caskin 11 pass from Sean Strittmatter (Brian Dolan kick)
G — Dage Davis 45 run (Brian Dolan kick)
F — Rashon Torrence 72 run (kick failed)
G — Ryan Rudasill 30 run (Brian Dolan kick)
G — Brian Dolan 25 kick
Fork Union — Rashon Torrence 16-203
Georgetown Prep — Dage Davis 20-186; Ryan Rudasill 15-133.
Fork Union — Sam Allen 10-17-120-0
Georgetown Prep — Sean Strittmatter 6-12-42-1
Fork Union — Lewis Freeman 5-54; Micah Keels 3-44.
Georgetown Prep — Patrick Caskin 2-16; Ryan Rudasill 1-13; Xavier Francis 1-13.