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Hurricane duo shines in loss

By | Gazette-Mail High School Huddle
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Craig Cunningham
Hurricane's Zach Pate attempts to get away from George Washington's Tanner Sorrells.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Preseason All-State seniors Austin Hensley and Zach Pate had not had many opportunities to truly show their explosive abilities until Hurricane's 60-54 loss at George Washington (6-0) on Friday night.

Prior to the shootout, their team had been smothered by Huntington in the season opener and hampered by Hensley's first-half shoulder injury in a blowout loss to Cabell Midland.

Hensley, though, completed 11-of-18 passes for 208 yards, and on three occasions beat the GW secondary with passing gains of more than 30 yards. Oddly enough, Hensley - did not throw a touchdown pass, but he also did not throw an interception.

Pate, meanwhile, left the GW (6-0) defense and coaching staff so befuddled that after one of several impressive kickoff returns Patriots Coach Steve Edwards Jr. was left on the sideline screaming "Do not kick it to twenty-two!"

Pate, the aforementioned No. 22, ran 30 times for 224 yards and four touchdowns, finished the game with 232 total yards. His all-purpose yardage total was much higher, but Hurricane's official return yardage has not yet been verified for the game.

Edwards said the Hurricane (3-3) use of a no-huddle offense forced several adjustments the Patriots had not anticipated having to make.

"They kept making big plays and it took us longer to make adjustments on the fly," Edwards said. "We tried (to adjust in the second half) and we played some different personnel.

"I hate saying it, but we had some guys banged up there, so we had to have guys suck it up a little bit. I'm proud of them for being able to."

The Patriots dominated the time-of-possession battle, having the ball 36:00 to 12:00 for Hurricane. Hurricane scored at a rate of 4.5 points per minute of possession, but two critical fumbles doomed their comeback from an early 16-0 deficit that itself was caused largely by a bad snap, resulting in a safety less than 2 minutes into the game.

Pate's fumble at the GW 25 with 5:47 left in the third quarter was returned by GW senior Jacob Jackson for a 75-yard touchdown that gave the Patriots a 53-40 lead just when the Redskins looked like they might move in front for the first time.

"We couldn't get a turnover," Hurricane Coach Jeremy Taylor said. "They didn't have any turnovers and we had two. Right there is the whole game."

Earlier, a lateral from Hensley intended for Pate sailed wide and was recovered by GW, leading to a Reed Deer field goal.

The game was the highest-scoring game in GW history, surpassing DuPont's 61-30 win over the Patriots in 1994. Friday's game was also the fourth-highest scoring game played by a Kanawha County team in the sport's history.

 

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    WHILE HENSLEY and Pate stood out, the end result it was still another big-game loss for the Redskins.

    Though it has reached the Class AAA playoffs seven times in the last 10 years, Hurricane's fortunes against playoff opponents have wilted in the latter portions of the last decade. Prior to the 2013 season the Redskins were 8-20 against playoff opponents from 2007-2012, although they were a respectable 3-4 against such teams in 2011.

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