Keith Watson announced it right after the game: "The three-headed monster is in the house."
Watson, a senior running back and one head of Annandale's so-dubbed three-pronged rushing attack, had it right. The trio kept the visiting Atoms undefeated in the Virginia AAA Patriot District with a 34-20 victory over West Potomac last night, combining for 370 yards rushing and all five Annandale touchdowns.
While Watson's 143 yards and two touchdowns were impressive, senior quarterback Nate Cartagena (144 yards, 15 carries) led the way. Cartagena all but put away the game in the fourth quarter by breaking through the middle of the field and outrunning the Wolverines defense for a 54-yard touchdown after junior Antwaun Broxton had recovered a West Potomac fumble. Cartagena's score put the Atoms (4-2, 4-0 AAA Patriot District) up by 14.
"I wasn't thinking about the guys chasing me. I was just thinking about the back of the end zone," Cartagena said. "That was my target, and that was all that was on my mind."
Cartagena more than made up for his size (5 feet 9, 180 pounds) with his elusiveness near the line. On one play in the first quarter, a West Potomac defender attempted to grab him but only managed to pull out Cartagena's hand towel.
Cartagena credited part of his ability to make tacklers miss to his martial arts skills. He is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
"He's extremely quick," Annandale Coach Dick Adams said of Cartagena. "He has good football speed. Those guys that were chasing him on that touchdown are a lot faster than he is, but he outran them all. He makes you miss like no one I've seen."
West Potomac quarterback Chris Farquhar did his best to counter. He completed his first six passes in the fourth quarter, marching the Wolverines to the Annandale 7-yard line with a chance to cut the lead to seven. But a couple of dropped passes plagued the Wolverines (2-4, 1-2), who turned the ball over on downs. Farquhar finished 14-for-24 passing for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Annandale scored on its next possession on a 29-yard run by Watson. Annandale's third threat, sophomore John Logan, was not left out, rushing for 83 yards and two touchdowns for the Atoms.
This season the three players have combined for 1,573 yards rushing.
"Those three kids just are doing a great job," Adams said. "If we do that enough, we'll beat some more people this year."