CHARLESTON - Lewis County's dream season ended Friday night in the South Hills neighborhood of Charleston as the Minutemen suffered a 41-14 loss at George Washington in Class AAA quarterfinals.
The Patriots capitalized on Lewis County mistakes as five Minutemen turnovers led to four of the six GW touchdowns.
"I felt that we competed hard and did some good things," Lewis County coach Eddie Vincent said. "We just failed to take care of the ball and when you face a team of this caliber, you are not going to win making those kind of mistakes."
After a scoreless first quarter, George Washington's Ryan Switzer scored the on a 1-yard run to open the scoring early in the second quarter. GW's Jacob Whitlock blocked a Lewis punt on the next possession and the ball was recovered at the Lewis four.
Switzer scored on the next play to push the advantage to 14-0.
Dustin Martin answered with a 40-yard punt return that set up a short field. After a 26-yard pass completion from Braden Montgomery to Skyler Carlton, Lewis County was inside the 10-yard line and threatening.
But this is where the tables turned as George Washington's Jacob Jackson scooped up a fumble and raced 90 yards for a touchdown that put the Patriots up 20-0. They would carry the lead into halftime and wasn't threatened the rest of the way out.
Switzer added three more second half touchdowns - two on runs of 53 and 11 yards, and a 65-yard punt return. Lewis County's two touchdowns were provided Caleb Butcher, as he tied the Big 10 Conference record for career-rushing touchdowns. The first tally came after Wilson Harvey recovered a Switzer fumble and returned it to the GW nine.
Switzer's five touchdowns were part of a night that included 18 carries for 171 yards. In all, GW accumulated 309 total yards - 245 rushing and 64 passing. The Lewis County defense held the Patriots to only 5-of-15 through the air.
Mark Metzgar led Lewis County with 115 yards on 22 carries, while Montogmery went 3-of-7 passing for 66 yards. Carlton was the primary target with two grabs for 52 yards. Martin rambled for 108 yards on four kickoff returns.
Lewis County matched GW for the most first downs on the crisp evening as each team moved the chains 12 times.
"They are a strong and smart football team and they are a lot quicker than we thought they were," George Washington head coach Steve Edwards said. "Coach Vincent and his staff does a tremendous job. They are so well coached and their kids are always where they are supposed to be and they play hard. They exploited some things early and we had to make some adjustments to finally be effective."
George Washington moves to 10-2 overall and advances to the Class AAA semifinals.
Lewis ends the season at 9-3 , and despite the loss, it was an historic season as the Minutemen won their first playoff game in school history.
This accomplishment was very special to Vincent in the game's aftermath.
"I can't say enough about this group of seniors," Vincent said. "They have done everything we have asked of them from all the way back when they were freshmen. They are like a family and that chemistry and work ethic is why they have had the success they have had. I have no doubt this group is also going to be very successful in their professional lives as well."