By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Intern
Leesburg (Nov. 24, 2013) – After a grueling four quarters of back and forth football on Friday night, the No. 4 Tuscarora High School Huskies fell to the No. 5 North Stafford Wolverines, 39-20, in the 5A North region quarterfinals.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of the way our boys responded,” Tuscarora coach Michael Burnett said. “We’re we down, and we scored. We got down two, and we scored again. Every time it seemed they got a score, we were able to build [on] it.””
Burnett’s Huskies trailed early after North Stafford’s quarterback Jalen Sarratt shuffled a pass to halfback Joey Slye for a 25-yard touchdown pass. Less than a minute later, Wolverine Cedrick Watkins scooped up a Tuscarora fumble and returned it 29 yards to give North Stafford a 13-0 lead.
“Everyone at the playoffs is at this level: a great team,” Burnett said. “If you make mistakes they’re going to make you pay. That’s what we did tonight.”
Just before the end of the first quarter, Tuscarora’s sophomore quarterback Daniel Smith pounded the ball across the goal line for a 1-yard score. The Huskies had all the momentum heading into the second period because on the first play of the quarter Tuscarora forced a fumble which they recovered to start another drive.
“That’s really a testament to the kind of kids we have,” Burnett said. “We got really great kids who don’t quit. They don’t give up.”
Quickly after the fumble, however, North Stafford’s Tyler Bailey intercepted a pass and returned it 57-yards for a Wolverine touchdown. Bailey added two more interceptions later in the game.
“[Bailey’s] a first team All-Conference defensive back: a three-year starter. This isn’t his first rodeo,” North Stafford coach Joe Mangano said. “He’s been around for a while. He’s a good ballplayer: he’s tough, he’s smart, he’s physical, he’s fast.”
While both teams coughed up a fumble in the game, North Stafford led the turnover margin because of Bailey’s three interceptions.
“I think there’s opportunities there because we were able to limit (Tuscarora junior running back Noah) Reimers early in the game,” Mangano said. “I think by doing that we were able to force them to throw the ball and put it in the air.”
Mangano said going in his game plan was to stop Reimers. While Reimers did run for 189 yards on 23 carries including a 60-yard touchdown run, Mangano said his defense forced Reimers to run more north and south rather than bouncing out to the outside.
“The big thing is you have to stop Reimers and the run. I think we did a pretty good job of that in the first half. If you look at the runs in the second half, he had some big ones but really overall I think we bottled him up.”
Offensively, North Stafford went to the ground game where senior running back Von Purvis carried most of the work load including 20- and 39-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter.
Tuscarora and North Stafford dramatically differed in the age of their athletes as the Huskies’ offensive core is established around underclassmen. Although the Husky seniors played the final game on that turf field at Tuscarora High School, Burnett says he is not disappointed in the team’s performance at all.
“It’s a great group of kids: a very young group of kids. We only have a handful of seniors on the team. It’s been the nicest group of kids I’ve ever coached on and off the field.”
Listen to the story here:
Daniel Smith 12-for-18, 104 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
Jalen Sarratt 8-for-9, 98 yards, 2 TD
Noah Reimers 23 carries, 189 yards, 1 TD
Daniel Smith 8 carries, 23 yards, 1 TD
Mali Barker 5 carries, 10 yards
Von Purvis 16 carries, 147 yards, 2 TD
Jalen Sarratt 11 carries, 44 yards
Cedrick Watkins 6 carries, 26 yards
Denzel Opoku 2 carries, 6 yards
Jordan Fisher 8 receptions, 69 yards, 1 TD
TJ Davis 3 receptions, 18 yards
Jason Holder 1 reception, 17 yards
Joey Slye 3 receptions, 41 yards, 1 TD
Andre Hamilton 2 receptions, 39 yards, 1 TD
Cedrick Watkins 3 receptions, 18 yards
1Q 8:07 NS Jalen Sarratt to Joey Slye 25-yard TD pass (Slye PAT)
1Q 7:19 NS Cedrick Watkins 29-yard fumble recovery (PAT failed)
1Q 1:57 T Daniel Smith 1-yard TD run (Miller PAT)
2Q 6:03 NS Tyler Bailey 57-yard interception return (Slye PAT)
3Q 8:17 NS Von Purvis 20-yard TD run (PAT failed)
3Q 7:16 T Noah Reimers 60-yard TD run (Miller PAT)
3Q NS Von Purvis 39-yard TD run (PAT failed)
4Q 11:54 T Daniel Smith to Jordan Fisher 5-yard TD pass (PAT failed)
4Q 7:16 NS Jalen Sarratt to Andre Hamilton 24-yard TD pass (Slye PAT)
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently a sophomore at Syracuse University. Follow Owen on Twitter (@BigO_Gotimer) for up-to-date college signings, scores and more.