Rebounding from last week’s last-minute loss, Bulldogs pound it early and often to halt Huskies’ win streak.
Final score –
Tuscarora Huskies (5-4) 0 0 0 7 = 7
Stone Bridge Bulldogs (6-2) 18 13 7 6 = 44
1 / 9:32 – Stone Bridge TD (Easton Turner 43-yd pass to Daniel Thompson; kick missed)
1 / 6:57 – Stone Bridge TD (Bradley Block 15-yd run; 2-pt run failed)
1 / 5:15 – Stone Bridge TD (Eric Palmer 57-yd INT return; kick missed)
2 / 11:30 – Stone Bridge TD (Joshua Breece 63-yd run; 2-pt run failed)
2 / 3:10 – Stone Bridge TD (Tyrese Johnson 5-yd run; Bradley Block kick)
3 / 7:46 – Stone Bridge TD (Easton Turner 27-yd pass to Daniel Thompson; Bradley Block kick)
4 / 11:16 – Tuscarora TD (Justin Allen 9-yd pass to Bryce Sorrell; Yassine Elmellouki kick)
4 / 7:33 – Stone Bridge TD (Josh Lawyer 21-yd run; kick missed)
Stone Bridge High School, Ashburn, Va. (October 21, 2016) — Now that’s more like it.
At least, it is for Bulldogs of Stone Bridge High School. One week after suffering – and that is precisely the right word – the excruciating disappointment of a sudden 10-7 loss to their biggest, nearest and perhaps most competitive rival, Broad Run, Stone Bridge came out for their home game against Potomac District foe Tuscarora with a plan to erase last Friday’s bad taste…and everything went according to plan.
For the stalwart Bulldogs, with designs on landing atop this ultra-competitive Potomac District in which all five schools are slotted in the top-10 of Region 5A North‘s powerpoints standings, it was just what the head coach ordered.
“I really think that game angered a lot of our guys and made them want to get better,” said Stone Bridge head coach Mickey Thompson, who’s led the Bulldogs’ program to six state championship finales and an average of close to 12 victories per season in his 16 years in control.
“Up until that game, I think we might have taken for granted what Stone Bridge football is. I felt like we really got back to work, instead of just coming out and thinking its going to happen. I was really excited about their resolve.”
Known for offensive versatility, Stone Bridge handed the ball to six different rushers, none for more than eight carries. Senior quarterback Easton Turner completed all five first-half attempts to amass 117 aerial yards. Only twice were the Bulldogs tackled for negative yardage.
“All the things we thought were going to work, all the shots we were going to take, they all panned out in the end,” Turner said.
If you’re the Huskies of Tuscarora High School, it’s more like growing pains. Fifteen of 22 starters have yet to hit their senior year.
“This is a young team. We missed opportunities early, and you can’t make that many mistakes in succession at the beginning of the game, because they don’t really have the experience to bounce back from it,” Tuscarora head coach Michael Burnett assessed.
The result of 44-7 is slightly misleading, what with all the unconverted extra points. If you’re keeping score by touchdowns alone, the final totals are: Stone Bridge 7, Tuscarora 1. Going into the last 12 minutes, it was six to zip. And that just about tells the story.
The onslaught began early at F.H. Furr Field. Fans were still streaming into the stands on the chilly, breezy Friday evening when, on the Bulldogs’ second play from scrimmage, Turner floated a pass to a very, very wide open Daniel Thompson. The Husky defense, selling out to stop the run, was powerless to stop the easy TD.
“Everybody tries to stop the run, that’s what everybody tries to do against us,” Thompson said. “If they’re going to leave us some opportunities, we’ve got to take advantage of it.”
That was when the contest was just 150 seconds old. Another 150 seconds later, Stone Bridge was at it again. Bradley Block burst to the left side where no one was around to defend, and the junior fullback cruised unfettered for another easy TD.
Five minutes in, the Huskies had snapped eight plays for 12 yards. The Bulldogs had run four plays for 12 points.
It was time for the defense to join the party. Junior linebacker Eric Palmer followed the gaze of sophomore quarterback Justin Allen such that when Allen threw it, zipping a slot toward a slanting receiver, it was Palmer who caught it while tracking backwards, shifted his momentum forward and sailed down the sideline, juking Allen on his way to the zero-yard line.
The Huskies kept at it. Allen found Renny Adjei for a 14-yard screen pass on a 3rd-&-13, keeping alive a drive that made it to the Bulldog 37. But it went no farther, and a dropped pass doomed the visitors to yet another turnover on downs.
The Bulldogs kept their foot firmly on the gas as the second quarter opened. Senior back Joshua Breece sped things along when he broke off an impressively fast 63-yard dash, slanting toward the sideline, turning the corner and putting it in overdrive, leaving arms grasping at nothing in his wake.
Just over 12 minutes in, and the score stood at 24-0. But the Bulldogs still weren’t satisfied (10-7, remember?). Turner took to the skies, finding three different receivers for three gains in excess of 20 yards, and the home team had their fans buzzing again. But Breece dropped it near the 10 where junior linebacker Kyle Jenkins picked it up and brought it back to the 21.
It would become Stone Bridge’s sole turnover, and it would become moot when Stone Bridge’s defense held Tuscarora to less than 10 yards after four downs.
That’s when Breece seemed to get angry. Clutching the ball with his life, Breece ran around and through a host of Husky defenders for a 28-yard gain to the 5, setting up Tyrese Johnson‘s touchdown run from there.
The Huskies were down but not out. Leron West churned out a 26-yard rush, the Huskies’ biggest gainer of the night. It went for naught as time in the first half ran out, with the score 31-0. End Jack Kosko and linemen Daniel Renaud and Kellis Martin led the strong center of the Bulldogs’ defense, while Dohnavyn Jefferson clamped down the outside with two Tuscarora passes broken up.
“Our defense continues to be solid,” said Thompson, who has nine non-seniors starting on that side of the ball. “When we started the season, we said that’s what we were going to build around. I feel really great about our defense.”
After intermission, Stone Bridge did more of the same. Turner hit Leland Girdy to convert a 4th-&-5, then kept it himself on an option play to hustle out 20 yards. Turner and Thompson then connected again on a TD strike, notching the only points of the third quarter, putting the Bulldogs up 38-0 and initiating running-clock mode (e.g., “the mercy rule”).
“He’s a really good receiver and we’ve known that all along,” said Mickey Thompson of Daniel Thompson (no relation). The wideout was shifted from strong side to weak side for the Tuscarora tilt, with immediate dividends. “We put him in a place where he could make plays.”
That mercy was premature, though. The Huskies found their bite as Allen found Bryce Sorrell and Jeremy Sampson for completions of 18 and 20 yards, reaching the red zone for the first time. They made the close encounter count when Allen sizzled a fastball to Sorrell, who had one foot in the end zone when he got two hands on the football.
That would be it for Tuscarora denting the scoreboard, although their hosts were not quite finished. Facing a 4th-&-inches, the ball went to Josh Lawyer for the first time, and the junior back surged past the first and only line of defense, stopping only when paydirt had been reached.
“We just need to be more mentally sharp in those critical situations,” Burnett said. “It’s just experience. People ask me what we’re going to do. Well, get older, hopefully.”
With time dwindling and the game providing essentially film-study fodder, Tuscarora drove to their opponents’ 25. They stalled there, and fittingly, the contest closed with Tuscarora turning it over on downs for the fifth time.
It was a happy pack of Bulldogs who surrounded their coaches for the post-game talk.
“Coach reminded us all week not to forget 10-7,” Turner said. “We knew we had to make our way back…. We just have to ride this momentum and keep going.”
The game was the beginning of Stone Bridge’s Homecoming weekend, and all stops were pulled out. The school’s 100-strong co-ed choir intoned a performance of the Stone Bridge alma mater – “show respect…improve in every way” – before offering a rendition of the national anthem, really hitting the high notes. The Bulldog student section joined in on “…home of the brave.”
Halftime saw the announcement of Homecoming’s princesses and queen: seniors Katie Rhoads, Anna Bonner and Heather Stone; juniors Kate Harwood, Shayna Hussain, Tori Preast and Taylor Petrakis; sophomores Helen Boyles, Jordan Thompson and Elaine Werschmidt, and freshman Claire Masi. Stone Bridge’s Homecoming Queen is none other than Alaina Bowen. Long may she reign.
The ladies were serenaded by the Bulldog Dance Team, which beebopped through a three-minute pop-medley routine, and the Marching Bulldogs band, which harmonized through their show Outta This World, mixing spacey hits from Star Trek, Star Wars, ET and 2001: A Space Odyssey – the same show they’ll show off on New Year’s Day when they parade through the streets of London, England.
Stone Bridge stats –
Rushing: Joshua Breece 8-127, 1 TD; Easton Turner 2-23; Tyrese Johnson 5-21, 1 TD; Josh Lawyer 1-21; 1 TD; Bradley Block 1-15, 1 TD; Leland Girdy 2-8
Passing: Easton Turner 9 of 10 for 167, 2 TDs
Receiving: Daniel Thompson 3-93, 2 TDs; Leland Girdy 4-43; Dohnavyn Jefferson 1-21
Stone Bridge stats –
Rushing: Leron West 6-36; Renny Adjei 12-18; Jaylon Lundy 6-18; Taye Davis 2-4; Justin Allen 3-2; Joe Morein 2-(-2)
Passing: Justin Allen 8 of 21 for 95, 1 TD, 1 INT
Receiving: Bryce Sorrell 5-54, 1 TD; Jeremy Sampson 1-20; Renny Adjei 1-14; Joe Morein 1-7
Other scores –
Heritage 41, John Champe 38
Freedom 21, Rock Ridge 14
Loudoun Valley 48, Loudoun County 14
Woodgrove 56, Park View 20
Potomac Falls 49, J.E.B. Stuart 6
Briar Woods 42, Chantilly 3
Broad Run 34, Oakton 6
Clark County 42, Riverside 14
Off week for: Dominion
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
for Viva Loudoun Media Communications