Story By Dan Sousa
Viva Loudoun Editor
Leesburg (Sept. 13, 2013) – Briar Woods High School senior Trace McSorley threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for two more scores to lead the Falcons to a 35-3 win at Loudoun County Thursday night. Briar Woods has now won 32 straight football games, putting them in the VHSL records books, tied for 11th all-time in consecutive wins.
McSorley (a Vanderbilt commit) has been at the helm since his freshman year and the Falcons 3-0 start in 2013 runs his career mark at quarterback to an amazing 45-3.
While his career numbers continue to climb into a rarefied air in the VHSL record books — he moved past Sherando’s Ross Metheny for 8th all-time in passing yardage (7,258 yards) Thursday; is 6th all-time in completions (508); and 8th all-time in TDs (80) — it was his power and poise that helped the Falcons turn around a slow start that saw them holding onto a slim 7-3 lead against a plucky Raider team with just seconds to go in the first half.
After Caleb Hilgartner’s 24-yard field goal put the Raiders on the scoreboard with 1:32 left in the half. Briar Woods mounted a quick comeback that started with senior Tristan Miller making a 28-yard kickoff return to the Falcon 34. McSorley then his junior Tristan Carter on a quick route that turned into a 27-yard gain after Carter broke a tackle.
The drive appeared stalled at the Raider 25 as the Falcons faced 4th-and-7 but McSorley scrambled out of the pocket and was determined to get the first down, taking a big hit from Loudoun County junior Jake Frye, that flipped McSorley completely in the air, landing out of bounds just beyond the first down marker.
Two plays from the 22, McSorley threw a perfect fade route to Carter who made a heck of a catch in the end zone. While Carter appeared to come down with the ball with his backside hitting the sideline, but the official on top of the play ruled he brushed his foot in bounds prior to going out and the momentum changing score, along with senior Nick LaFrankie’s PAT, put Briar Woods up 14.3 with 1.8 seconds left in the half.
It may have not been your typical night for McSorley and Falcons, who had turnovers on their first two touches of the game on a punt return and a McSorley interception on his first throw of the night. McSorley, who wasn’t feeling 100 percent Thursday, also was picked off on his first throw of the second half, but he busted loose for touchdown runs of 16 yards in the second quarter and 23 yards in the third quarter. He also had a 24-yard touchdown pass to senior Melvin Holland, Jr. and another pass that was deflected and dropped that could have been an 87-yard score.
McSorley with 70 yards rushing on six carries, led the Falcons ground game for the third straight week. He also jump-started a 21-point second half when the Falcons were sputtering in the third quarter. Having gained no yardage on their first two possessions of the second half and pinned back to their own 5 by Raider punter Hilgartner who had a productive and busy night with 10 punts in the contest, McSorley energized the Falcons with a 15-yard run that probably should have been stopped at the line of scrimmage.
Not breaking tackles, as much as carrying tacklers along with him, McSorley slowly worked his way up the field as more and more Raiders jumped on to stop him until he was covered in a sea of County players. If anything, it appears McSorley’s work in the weight room has qualified him to enter the Dulles Plane Pull by himself.
In that same drive, McSorley found Miller on 3rd-and-11 behind the coverage for a big 45-yard gain to the Raider 36. Five plays later, a well-designed call gave McSorley plenty of room to jet up the middle to end zone just about untouched. That gave Briar Woods a 21-3 advantage midway through the third quarter.
Briar Woods is still adjusting on both sides of the ball with two players out that were tabbed by Viva Loudoun as No. 1 at their position this season OL/DL Nick Merletti (out for the year after knee surgery) and WR/DB Brandon Polk (out with a foot injury).
The Briar Woods linebacking corps, however, was lights out as the trio of seniors Chris Larco, Holland, Jr. and junior Dominic Moore combined for 23 tackles on the night, limiting the Raiders to 69 total yards of offense on 51 plays.
Loudoun County (2-1) showed sparks with exciting junior quarterback Tae Crews-Naylor moving the ball at times, especially from County’s empty backfield set. Crews-Naylor finished the night 9 of 15 passing for 42 yards. He also ran by design or scrambled away from pressure 20 times in the contest, with a net result of 21 yards after the sacks were accounted for. Briar Woods registered eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage in the win.
County’s defense stuck with the Falcons until tiring a bit midway through the third quarter. Senior A.J. Bourscheid and Frye each had interceptions and senior Andrew Barnes recovered the early Briar Woods fumble on a punt return in slippery conditions.
Crews-Naylor and the Raider offense owned the first quarter, running 16 plays while the Falcons got off just five snaps.
Frye got open for an 11-yard gain on 3rd-and-8 to keep a drive alive that stalled at the Falcon 38.
Briar Woods opened the scoring in the second quarter on a 8-play, 94-yard drive that took less than three minutes.
With 3rd-and-3 from their own 13, Holland, JR. picked up just enough on a reception to keep the drive alive. Later in the drive, Briar Woods converted on 3rd-and-6 from around midfield as McSorley hit Holland, Jr. once again, this time for 13 yards. While the Raiders were getting some pressure on McSorley, Briar Woods was able to turn two swing passes to senior Hunter Ford out of the backfield into nice gains of 27 and 22 yards. The second Ford reception was followed by McSorley first TD run, from 17 yards out with 9:28 left in the second quarter.
Loudoun County then put together its best drive of the night after sophomore John Jackson turned his muffed kickoff return into the Raiders advantage as he scooped the ball back up deep on his own end of the field and raced up to the County 49 before being brought down.
Crews-Naylor and company then held the ball for almost eight minutes, converting two third downs and a fourth down. Crews-Naylor threw for 13 yards to senior Michael Rexrode on 3rd-and-8 to keep things going and then senior Tucker Langmead plowed through the line for two yards on 3rd-and-1. Facing 4th-and-5 at the Falcon 20, it was the Crews-Naylor to Rexrode combination again that had the home fans cheering as they netted eight yards.
The Falcons defense, however, stiffened inside the 10 and when Crews-Naylor was stopped on a keeper at the 6, ringing up 4th-and-4, Raider coach Todd Hill elected to go for the three points.
Briar Woods scored on three straight possessions in the second half, taking advantage of a short field to go up 28-3 with 1:36 left in the third. That drive was just two plays and 32 yards as McSorley and Miller hooked up for 29 yards and Larco did the honors with a TD on the ground from the 3.
After a another 3-and-out, Briar Woods went 42 yards on five plays to end the scoring on the evening with McSorley throwing 24 yards to Holland, Jr.
Briar Woods finished the night with 376 total yards and 18 first downs.
VHSL Consecutive Wins All-Time
- 45 Phoebus (2008-12)
- 40 Hampton (1995-97)
- 39 Central Senior (1986-88)
- 39 C.D. Hylton (1997-00)
- 38 Gretna (2003-05)
- 35 Hopewell (1948-52)
- 35 Hampton (1980-82)
- 34 Powell Valley (1997-99)
- 33 Radford (1971-74)
- 33 Salem (2004-06)
- 32 Granby (1944-46)
- 32 Clarke County (1961-64)
- 32 Briar Woods (2011-current)