Final score –
Dominion Titans (4-3) 0 0 7 0 7
Loudoun Valley Vikings (6-1) 3 0 7 0 10
1 / 8:31 – Loudoun Valley FG (Aaron Peart 24-yd kick)
3 / 8:50 – Dominion TD (Chad Smith 2-yd run; Will Jones kick)
3 / 5:43 – Loudoun Valley TD (Sully Warner 15-yd pass to Ryan Malsch; Aaron Peart kick)
Loudoun Valley High School, Purcellville, Va. (October 17, 2014) — If the story of last Friday’s game between Dominion and Loudoun Valley were told in book form, Valley’s version could be called “Winning Ugly” — but Dominion’s might be entitled “Opportunity Lost.”
The Vikings were victorious on their Homecoming Night, seizing momentum from the visiting Titans with a touchdown drive which immediately answered the touchdown drive Dominion produced on the second half’s first possession.
It was a satisfying response for a football team currently positioned for a high seed in next month’s 3A East playoffs, according to that team’s head coach.
“It’s good to get a good tight win,” said Valley’s Anthony Long, who noted that other than a sound defeat to Tuscarora, that instance was the first time all year the Vikings faced a deficit on the scoreboard.
“It’s good to see us battle back like that.”
But that back-and-forth sequence early in the third quarter comprised all but three of the game’s total points, as both teams made a habit of shooting themselves in the proverbial foot with turnovers and penalties.
“Our drive-killers really were the penalties. Really, we were just killing ourselves, not being able to finish mostly because of the penalties,” Long assessed.
Valley was hit with eight penalties, five in the second half and three of the 15-yard variety. But Dominion’s penalty ledger was even more glaring, with 13 flags, six of them costing 15 yards each.
The contest saw five turnovers, four committed by Dominion. Twice the Titans marched into the red zone only to come up empty — once when a personal foul knocked them beyond the 20, and again when they fumbled it inside the 10.
“We had every opportunity to win the football game,” Dominion coach Karl Buckwalter said. “We ended up on the short end. It’s not what they did, it’s what we didn’t do.”
The whistle-fest started early, as each side was tagged with a 15-yard infraction during the opening drive. Valley had a fresh set of downs at the 8, but went backwards and settled for a field goal.
Both offenses then made a habit of putting together a couple first downs, only to have momentum stalled by a stiffening defense. The first half concluded with the teams’ offenses proving they could move the ball, but neither squad demonstrating it could stay penalty-free enough to score.
That changed as soon as the third-quarter clock began to tick. On the first snap, Dominion junior quarterback Scotty Forbes found Derrick Kouame between three defenders for a big gain down the middle. A few plays later, Forbes used his feet to improvise a third-and-long conversion.
The eight-play, 80-yard drive was culminated with a two-yard sprint to the far pylon by Chad Smith coming from the opposite end, and the Titans had the lead.
It was short-lived. The Vikings, starting on their own 30, handed it to senior running back Andrew Cordani, who broke off a 39-yard field-flipping run.
That was the igniter of a drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Ryan Malsch dragging across the middle — though that result was nearly snuffed out by a holding call against Valley from the 3.
Long complimented his senior-laden offense for the prompt response to Dominion’s challenge, including Cordani and quarterback Sully Warner.
“They’re winners. They never think they’re out of it, and they’re going to fight all the way to the end,” the head coach said.
Cordani, going up against a Dominion defense headed by Clemson-bound Smith and collegiate prospect Adeeb Atariwa, was limited to just 42 yards before halftime. He racked up nearly three times that figure in the second half, as the Titan defense became pressed for energy.
Valley’s defense, however, seemed to be invigorated after its team retook the lead. Forbes was held to just three pass completions after the Titans’ touchdown drive.
“I like the resiliency of our defense down the stretch,” said Long, who employed the phrase “bend but don’t break” in describing his defense’s effort. “We got some big turnovers that really kept us in the game.”
As Buckwalter noted, it is the second consecutive season in which a four-game win streak by Dominion was halted by a loss to the Vikings, a repeat the Titans coach unjokingly called “Groundhog Day.”
While the veteran coach complimented his players’ efforts, he pointed to the baker’s-dozen of penalties as examples of “mental mistakes,” including three defensive encroachment infractions.
“Not just critical times, but any time,” he said. “We’re running our mouths and jumping off-sides. I mean, just silly stuff.”
To remain in the thick of 4A North playoff contention and make it two straight postseason campaigns for the first time ever, Dominion must rebound for the final stretch.
Valley entered the evening in second place in its region. A win over a solid 4A team will help that ranking, but the way it happened could help once the playoffs begin, believes Long.
“We told them early on that we might not be putting up a lot of points, but just to stick with it, and we did.”
Dominion stats –
Rushing: Brandon Ruffin 8-28; Scotty Forbes 7-34; Billie Walker 5-11; Taliek Washington 4-9; Luke Thompson 1-10; Chad Smith 1-2, 1 TD
Passing: Scotty Forbes 16 of 23 for 189, 3 INTs
Receiving: Derrick Kouame 6-104; Luke Thompson 5-37; Chad Smith 3-25; Brandon Ruffin 2-23
Loudoun Valley stats –
Rushing: Andrew Cordani 30-162; Alex Schray 7-1; Sully Warner 4-(-1)
Passing: Sully Warner 8 of 18 for 132, 1 TD
Receiving: Ryan Malsch 3-40, 1 TD; Aaron Peart 2-50; Patrick Hopkins 2-18; Alex Schray 1-22
Other scores –
Briar Woods 28, Broad Run 21
Woodgrove 35, Loudoun County 13
Heritage 49, Park View 13
Tuscarora 33, Potomac Falls 7
John Champe 52, Freedom 7
Stone Bridge 54, Marshall 7
Off-week for: Rock Ridge JV
Written by Jason S Rufner