Stafford, Va. (September 5, 2014) – Having played in numerous big games over the last few years, the Briar Woods Falcons players are a confident bunch. They fully expected that their two-hour bus ride on Friday afternoon down a crowded 95 South would result in a victory. The coaching staff, while also confident in their team’s abilities, were well aware of the threat the Colonial Forge Eagles would present.
Though the Falcons defeated their rival at home last season by a score of 28-19, the Eagles went on to the semifinals of the 6A state tournament, only falling to highly regarded Oscar Smith. Playing them at home would be a sizable challenge.
The Falcons fell quickly behind in this one. After a three-and-out on their first possession, the home team started their first possession on their 40-yard line. Their first play from scrimmage was a 55-yard bomb thrown by Gary Jennings to WR Shomari Hargrove who was stopped at the five-yard line. Two plays later Jennings carried the ball into the end zone. A missed extra point made the score 6-0.
The ensuing kickoff was a low line drive that bounced off the leg of a Falcon lineman and into the hands of the Eagles’ Jarrion Redding on the Briar Woods 35. Two penalties totaling 15 yards would help the Falcons keep the Eagles from scoring any points that possession. Inopportune penalties and other mistakes would bedevil both teams in this game. In the end the Falcons made more mistakes than the Eagles, thus losing the game.
QB Jake Maffe would lead the Falcons to a nine-play touchdown drive covering 55 yards on the next possession. WR Tristan Carter caught two passes on that drive including the four yard touchdown throw. A missed extra point left the score at 6-6.
Possession went back and forth. At the start of the second quarter Anthony Martinez’ 11-yard punt return gave the Falcons good field possession at the Colonial Forge 42. WR Brandon Polk caught a seven-yard pass from Maffe and later in the drive a 12-yard touchdown catch that made the score 13-7. The second quarter would end with that score intact despite a 71-yard Falcon drive that fell short on the Eagles five-yard line as the halftime whistle blew.
The Eagles came out with a head of steam in the third quarter. Receiving the kickoff, they drove 65 yards in seven plays scoring on a two-yard TD plunge by Jennings. The Falcons would take the kickoff and get as close as the Eagle 31-yard line before the Falcons were forced to punt. On third down from midfield Jennings found WR Remone Miller for a 12 yard gain. A 15-yard roughing penalty on the Falcons put the ball on the 23. Four plays later Jennings rushed for his third touchdown. The third quarter ended with the Eagles leading 20-13.
By this point in the game the Eagles were effectively blitzing on every obvious passing down and the Falcons had trouble adjusting. On offense the Eagles ran off four straight running plays that gained 40 yards giving the Eagles a first down on the Briar Woods 38-yard line. The Falcon defense tightened up. ILB Takiyul Johnson stopped a run for no gain followed by DT Mark Birmingham’s tackle for a five yard loss. On third-and-15 the Falcons prepared to stop another run when Jennings found WR Joel Miller running all alone down the middle of the field. Miller caught the easy pass and scored on a 43 yard gain. The Falcons were now down 14 points with just nine minutes remaining in the game.
Maffe then engineered five-play, 73 yard touchdown drive. He hit Carter for 20 yards followed a few plays later by a 43-yard touchdown pass to WR Ben Maffe. On one minute and 20 seconds had elapsed giving the Falcons time to score if they could only stop a revitalized Eagles offense. The defense bent, but ultimately did not break.
With 2:32 remaining and the ball 80 yards from the end zone, the Falcons had a shot to tie the game. A 26 yard completion from Jake Maffe to RB Anthony Martinez helped them get the ball as far as the 50-yard line, but a relentless pass rush was affording Maffe very little time to throw the ball.
Finally the drive would end with 54 seconds remaining and the home team would run out the clock for the victory.
Article written by Viva Loudoun intern George Khalsa.