LEXINGTON -A potent running game that generated two touchdowns flavored with a passing attack that produced two more has given Washington and Lee University more diversity in its noted triple option.
That combination gave Ferrum College plenty of headaches Saturday at Wilson Fleld
The Generals (3-0 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, 4-1 overall) used a 21-point, second-stanza scoring surge to win their fourth straight game and establish themselves as a championship contender in the league with a 30-10 rout of the Panthers (0-2 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, 1-3 overall), who suffered their third straight loss and their second in as many seasons to the Generals.
A year ago, Washington and Lee won on a field goal on the game’s final play as each team exceeded the 30-point mark and combined for 73 points.
Saturday, only one team reached 30 points and it may have been no surprise that Washington and Lee did so. In its three wins prior to its latest triumph, the Washington and Lee tallied 42, 52 and 43 points.
The Generals led 21-0 at intermission and 30-3 after three periods of play. Ferrum found the end zone just once — with 3:38 remaining on a 13-yard run by Joe Burris III. His rush completed an 11-play, 99-yard drive that erased 4:52 form the clock.
Since tallying 55 points in a season-opening, non-conference rout of Greensboro (North Carolina) College, the Panthers have scored 32 points against the trio of Averett University, Randolph-Macon College and Washington and Lee which are a combined 11-3.
“We see a three-hour test on Saturday, but it’s what we do Monday through Friday that we have to improve on as coaches and as players to have a better results,’’ Panthers sideline boss Rob Grande said of his team’s sixth ODAC setback in one-plus seasons of conference play.
Changes need to be made, Grande said.
“We’ve got to be cleaner in practice. The mistakes you’re seeing on Saturday are happening Monday through Friday. That’s not a shock when those things don’t get fixed during the week. That’s my job and I’m not doing a very good job right now,’’ Grande said.
“The effort is there. The kids care about each other and we can build on those things,’’ Grande said.
“...We’ve got to look at everything — schemes, calls, players. We’ve got to get the right people on the field to do the things we can do to be more efficient. We haven’t been against three pretty good defensive. We haven’t met that challenge,’’ Grande said. “But we’ll be back (against Guilford) ready to play.’’
Senior starting quarterback Zack Clifford returned to Ferrum’s line-up after he missed the Randolph-Macon game due to a concussion he sustained in the setback to Averett.
But, Saturday, the Panthers played without Brian Mann for 2 1/2 quarters after he sustained a knee injury. Mann left the field just before halftime with ice on his knee. He viewed the second half out of uniform with the ice pack still intact.
Mann carried the ball nine times for two yards prior to his departure.
“He got caught up in a pile and he tweaked (his knee). Everything seems to be intact, but right now it’s too early to tell,’’ Grande said. “The things he needs to be able to do, he can’t do, so we had to go to some younger guys.
“All I knew was that he wasn’t going to return (after the injury),’’ Grande said. “We’ll evaluate things this week.’’
Burris turned out to be Ferrum’s leading rusher with 58 of the Panthers’ 103 positive rushing yards. But, 53 negative yards cut the net to 50 on 31 attempts.
Clifford completed 50 percent of his passes (11 of 22) for 127 yards. He was intercepted once and sacked twice. Clifford completed passes to seven receivers.
“Washington and Lee is stingy on defense...They’re well structured. They’re aggressive. ... They don’t give you nothing and they didn’t give us anything,’’ Grande said.
The Generals accumulated 320 rushing yards and 170 through the air for a total of 490. They averaged 7.1 yards-per-play on 69 plays from scrimmage.
The Generals got rushing TDs from Alex Wertz and Colby Kirkland covering 7 and 76 yards.
Eight of Washington and Lee’s 10 players who carried the football had multiple rushing attempts.
Quarterbacks Jack Pollard, a sophomore, and Trey Laughlin, a junior, each threw a TD pass.
Pollard and Laughlin were a combined 11 of 15 and neither was sacked.
Both are playing in replace of injured veteran Drew Richardson, a senior.
Receiver Montgomery Owen caught both, the first from Pollard for 29 yards with 49 seconds left in the first half, the second from Laughlin from 32 yards at 5:38 of the third frame.
Owen caught seven passes for 152 yards, while four other players each caught one pass.
A 31-yard field goal by kicker Jarrett Wright, the hero of last year’s Washington and Lee triumph at W.B. Adams Stadium, produced a 30-3 advantage with 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
“We’ve finding our identity on the offense side (of the football) and that’s been big for us the last few weeks,’’ second-year Generals head coach Garrett LeRose said. “We’ve had a lot of guys make plays for us.’’
The running game comprises the greater part of that identity, LeRose said.
“We’re still committed to our running game...When we commit to what we’re trying to do, that’s what opens up some of those big play opportunities for us,’’ LeRose said.
“Our (ability to throw the ball) certainly helps our triple option...We see a lot of eight and nine men in the box looks and we’re still committed to running against those, but the passing game is an element that (our opponents) have to prepare for now,’’ LeRose said.
“We run the football first, but we have to be prepared to take advantage of big play opportunities,’’ LeRose said.
Ferrum kicker booted his eighth field goal of the season, a 37-yarder at 10:32 of the third period. Green is three successful kicks shy of breaking the single-season program standard.
Niccolas Helvy led the Panthers’ defense with nine tackles, six of which were solo stops. Kyke Wood of Washington and Lee collected five tackles, all solo stops.
Washington and Lee has an open date prior to returning to to conference play at Emory & Henry College on Oct. 19.
“I think five weeks in is a good time for an open date,’’ LeRose said. “It’s going to give our guys time to exhale.’’
Ferrum had its open date in the first week of the season (Sept. 7). The Panthers face at least six more weeks of football.
Conference foe Guilford is Ferrum’s next opponent.
The Panthers will try to avenge last year’s one-point loss to the Quakers in their homecoming game Saturday at Adams Stadium. Kickoff is 1 p.m.
Guilford and Ferrum are a combined 2-7 overall and 0-5 in conference play.