Final score –
Loudoun County Raiders (2-1) 6 8 0 0 = 14
Briar Woods Falcons (2-1) 10 7 14 21 = 52
1 / 7:35 – Briar Woods FG (Jackson Funke 23-yd kick)
1 / 0:32 – Loudoun County TD (Cristian McDowell 10-yd punt block return; kick blocked)
1 / 0:05 – Briar Woods TD (Jordan Hinson 7-yd run; Jackson Funke kick)
2 / 6:38 – Briar Woods TD (Jake Maffe 55-yd pass to Tristan Carter; Jackson Funke kick)
2 / 0:40 – Loudoun County TD (Tae Crews-Naylor 16-yd run; 2-pt pass good)
3 / 4:52 – Briar Woods TD (Jake Maffe 2-yd run; Jackson Funke kick)
3 / 0:36 – Briar Woods TD (Jake Maffe 14-yd pass to Brandon Polk; Jackson Funke kick)
4 / 8:41 – Briar Woods TD (Anthony Martinez 9-yd run; Jackson Funke kick)
4 / 8:30 – Briar Woods TD (Dylan Bowie 27-yd fumble return; Jackson Funke kick)
4 / 7:34 – Briar Woods TD (Darrell Ramey 34-yd interception return; Jackson Funke kick)
Briar Woods High School, Ashburn, Va. (September 12, 2014) — You wouldn’t think that a game ending in a 38-point spread was ever really in doubt. But as the Loudoun County Raiders and Briar Woods Falcons headed to their respective locker rooms for halftime talks, the 17-14 score was uncomfortably close for Charlie Pierce’s liking.
“I challenged our players at halftime, man-to-man, about their play,” said the Falcons’ veteran coach, whose team was just a week removed from a defeat at Colonial Forge in which Pierce felt opportunities were squandered.
“That set the stage.”
The Briar Woods players responded to the challenge — that of their coach, and that of their opposition. In an explosive second half, the Falcons scored on defense, special teams, on the ground and through the air in putting together a thorough hammering of their guests from Leesburg.
Any notion that Briar Woods Falcons football is diminished, now in the post-Trace McSorley era, have been greatly exaggerated.
The Raiders, for their part, showed mettle in coming on the road to face the three-time state champs. As time wound down in the opening quarter, County’s Cristian McDowell broke through the left side of Briar Woods’ punt protection, batted it up off the punter’s foot, caught it and trotted into the end zone.
And even though the Falcons responded immediately with a touchdown run by Jordan Hinson, set up by his own 51-yard scamper — and even though a long scoring pass a few minutes later stretched the formidable Falcons’ lead out further — the Raiders hung in with a late first-half Tae Crews-Naylor rush to paydirt, improvising left after the design to the right was bottled up.
The County fans on the far side of the field saw more reason to get loud when their team faked the extra point and Antonio Jackson, a wide receiver who happens to be left-handed, rolled left and found a diving teammate in the end zone for the surprise two-point conversion.
“Our kids played as hard as they could,” County coach Todd Hill said after the game. “I’m proud of the kids for the effort they gave…. I honestly don’t believe the scoreboard is indicative of how hard the kids played.”
In the early moments of the second half, the Raiders’ narrow three-point deficit looked like it might vanish altogether when John Jackson took the opening kickoff some 50 yards to the Briar Woods 37, when the only available Falcon tackler was kicker Jackson Funke.
County earned a pair of first downs to get it to the 15-yard line. Penalties and backwards plays, however, stalled the drive, and the Raiders handed it over to their hosts at the 18.
Three consecutive chunks of yards gained by Brandon Polk, including a 15-yard catch and a 21-yard run, followed by a zigzagging 37-yard swing pass to Anthony Martinez, set up quarterback Jake Maffe’s sneak across the goal line, giving the Falcons momentum they would not again relinquish.
The importance of that early third-quarter swing was not lost on either coach.
“That was huge,” Hill said. “We said at halftime that we wanted to show them we were willing to stick in there. We got a good return, got the ball down the field, but we shot ourselves in the foot. We clean those up and we have a chance of being a good football team.”
As Pierce recounted, “They got that great kickoff return, but our defense held. Then we went down and scored, and that kind of set the tempo for the second half. That’s what changed the momentum. That’s when things started happening.”
The Raiders stacked the box against Briar Woods’ offense, necessitating frequent end-arounds by speedy Falcon wideouts, particularly Polk.
“They run a three-three stack, so they had six guys designated for inside the tackle box. So any inside zone…it’s going to be tough,” Pierce assessed. “So with everybody jammed up in there, it made sense to get outside, and [offensive coordinator] Jared [Develli] did a great job of calling those plays.”
Maffe, not especially fleet afoot, was nonetheless able to move his feet enough to find passing lanes and gain valuable yards.
Briar Woods’ offense was done after the 8:41 mark of the fourth quarter — but Briar Woods’ scoring wasn’t. County’s Sosthene Kah took the kickoff back to the 27, but fumbled it directly into the arms of Dylan Bowie, who carried it untouched the other way for the score.
Less than a minute later, the Falcon defense got in on the action when 6-foot-4, 265-pound Darrell Ramey showed off some vertical jump in tipping a Crews-Naylor pass to himself, then returned the interception 34 yards, shedding Raiders off his massive girth along the way.
Dominance along the line was a theme in Briar Woods’ favor all game long. The Falcons sacked County quarterbacks seven times, three of those courtesy of Bryan Capozzoli. The Raiders lost a total of 67 yards on those sacks.
“Our defensive line has been consistent all year,” complimented Pierce about Ramey, Capozzoli, Mark Birmingham, Dominic Moore and others. “They’re our stalwarts. Those guys are physical.”
Photos from the game can be viewed here.
Briar Woods stats –
Rushing: Jordan Hinson 11-92, 1 TD; Brandon Polk 6-65; Anthony Martinez 5-29, 1 TD; Jake Maffe 6-11, 1 TD; Brady Scott 1-16; Josh Thomas 1-8; Dillon Blevins 1-(-1); D’Andre Thomas 1-(-7)
Passing: Jake Maffe 6 of 14 for 151, 2 TD, 1 INT
Receiving: Anthony Martinez 3-67; Brandon Polk 2-29, 1 TD; Tristan Carter 1-55, 1 TD
Loudoun County stats –
Rushing: John Jackson 11-5; Tae Crews-Naylor 15-(-11), 1 TD; Luke Rivera 1-4; Neil Petersen 1-(-7)
Passing: Tae Crews-Naylor 13 of 24 for 111, 1 INT; John Jackson 0 of 1 for 0
Receiving: Antonio Jackson 8-82; Jake Frye 3-19; Darius Taylor 1-6; Neil Petersen 1-3
Other scores –
John Champe 21, Potomac Falls 16
Tuscarora 42, Loudoun Valley 7
Stone Bridge 42, Langley 14
Broad Run 55, Heritage 6
Dominion 62, Freedom 0
Rock Ridge JV 14, Park View JV 6 (Tuesday)
Woodgrove JV 54, Rock Ridge JV 14 (Friday)
Off-weeks for: Woodgrove, Park View
Written by Jason S Rufner