By Mike Stancik
Special to Viva Loudoun
Ashburn (Nov. 11, 2013) – Tuscarora High School running back Noah Reimers came into a Nov. 8 contest against Briar Woods having rushed for over 1,500 yards to go with 17 touchdowns. The host Falcons knew if they were to be victorious, the defense would have to contain the junior standout.
And as has been their mantra all season, Briar Woods took away the Huskies potent rushing attack, as they held Reimers to just 24 yards on 13 carries in a dominating 36-7 win. (Reimers exited the game in the third quarter which the running back has reported as a concussion and the Washington Post published Monday that Reimers will likely be out for the Huskies first round playoff game.)
“That’s been our philosophy: you take away the best thing that they want to do, and then they have to rely on something else,” Briar Woods head coach Charlie Pierce said. “That’s what happened tonight. Our guys prepared hard all week on defense to take away the power run and counter.”
“We knew if Reimers got going it was going to be hard, because they can use all their play-action stuff with it. But we took away the run and forced them to do some things out of their comfort zone.”
The Falcon defense indeed pushed Tuscarora out of their comfort zone, as the Huskies were held to a total of 100 yards rushing on 31 carries and gave the ball up five times — twice on fumbles and three times on failed fourth down attempts. Although Tuscarora sophomore quarterback Daniel Smith went a respectable 8-16 for 121 yards and 1 touchdown, Briar Woods senior signal-caller Trace McSorley outdueled him by accounting for 4 total scores — three via the pass and one on the ground.
“We had a few receivers that made some great plays,” McSorley, who was 8-15 for 113 yards and added 73 yards on the ground, said. “Coach drew up a lot of great concepts that got guys wide open. Our line did a great job blocking and created some holes for me to throw. [The win] was big for us. It was a big game that we had to be focused for. It definitely gives us some momentum heading into the playoffs.”
The two teams were 8-1 heading into the highly-anticipated matchup, but it was clear by night’s end which squad was superior. For the Huskies, the 29-point loss was tough to swallow, but they will likely be better for it thanks to the lessons learned for the ‘second season.’
The loss was enough to drop Tuscarora from the No. 2 seed in the 5A North playoffs to the No. 4 slot and it moved Stone Bridge up to No. 2 and Briar Woods to No. 3. The Falcons moved up to 5A this year after winning three straight 4A state championships.
“They’re a good team, and you’ve gotta play your best to beat a team like that, and it’s a little disappointing to not play well,” Tuscarora head coach Michael Burnett explained. “It’s a good wakeup call. We’re a good, young team. It’s one of those things at the beginning of the season if people said you’re going to be 8-2, everyone would say no way. But we’re 8-2, so we’re happy where we’re at…We’re too one-dimensional, and we know that. We’re getting better, our sophomore quarterback played well and he is progressing. So we have to have some balance going forward.”
Briar Woods was able to establish control at the line of scrimmage early, as Tuscarora was only able to manage 34 yards on its first three drives. Anthony Martinez tore off a 50-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to draw first blood (Martinez ran the 2-point conversion for good measure), and Tristan Carter scored on a 33-yard strike from McSorley to make it 15-0 in the second. Melvin Holland Jr. then added a two-yard touchdown catch with 15.2 seconds left to give the Falcons a commanding 22-0 lead heading into halftime. At that point, Reimers was stuck on 23 yards on 10 carries.
“The main thing was stopping their running game,” Holland Jr, who had 54 yards on three catches for two scores, added. “The North Stafford loss meant a lot to us because they killed us in the running game. We knew we could never let that happen again, so seeing another good running back like Reimers we had to prove we could shut him down.”
McSorley added a powerful 5-yard scoring run in the third quarter, and Holland Jr. recorded his second score of the day on an 8-yard pass early in the fourth to all but ice the game. Tuscarora was able to get on the board with less than 30 seconds left thanks to a 7-yard touchdown grab by Caleb Lokey.
“It’s really good, it sets up well for the playoffs.,” Holland Jr. said. “Giving us a big win like that is nice to get momentum heading into the playoffs, we’re always happy to get a W. Hopefully we play like this in the playoffs and get back to States, that’s always the ultimate goal.”
It’s certainly not a new goal for Briar Woods, and McSorley knows that his team must stay hungry if they are to achieve the improbable four-peat.
“We have the three F’s: Focus, fight, finish. We have to stay hungry, and stay humble. We can’t get too confident in ourselves. Coach is always using analogies; he talks about being the lion, not the gazelle- remaining the hunter, not hunted. So just keeping that mentality and mindset, and take it into the playoffs.”
Briar Woods 36, Tuscarora 7
T 0 0 0 7 – 7
BW 8 14 7 7 – 36
1 BW Martinez 50 run (Martinez run)
2 BW TCarter 33 pass from McSorley (LaFrankie kick)
2 BW Holland Jr. 2 pass from McSorley (LaFrankie kick)
3 BW McSorley 5 run (LaFrankie kick)
4 BW Holland Jr. 8 pass from McSorley (LaFrankie kick)
4 T Lokey 7 pass from Smith (Miller kick)
T: Smith 9-40, Reimers 13-24, Todd 1-17, Barker 7-14, Speroni 1-5.
BW: McSorley 6-73, Larco 12-59, Martinez 3-58, Ford 1-4, Hinson 1-2.
T: Smith 8-16-1, 121 yards.
BW: McSorley 8-15-0, 113 yards.
T: Fischer 2-44, Wall 4-43, Avelar 1-25, Lokey 1-7.
BW: Holland Jr. 3-54, TCarter 1-33, Polk 3-25, Ford 1-1.