By Robert Edmonds -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Inside the locker room at halftime, the players from Skyline listened intently to their coaches. Adjustments were needed and a tough challenge lay ahead. Everyone needed to do their part if the outcome was going to be a success.
The young Hawks looked around and the answer could be seen in their eyes. Despite a 4-point lead, Skyline had struggled on offense. Less than four minutes into the third quarter, Skyline scored 14 points to extend their lead.
Cliff Woodard racked up 117 yards on two runs and added another touchdown passing to blow the game open as the Hawks coasted to victory defeating a physical Fauquier team, 39-14.
"Our players really stepped up at halftime," Skyline coach Heath Gilbert said. "We have a lot of young kids who haven't had much game experience and you could see it in their eyes. They came out and responded and did exactly what we talked about. It was great to see them execute that way."
Skyline received the kickoff to open the second half and after a 5-yard penalty from the Falcons, Woodard took a handoff from Josiah Patrick cut to the weak side and burst through the line for a 75-yard score. The Hawks wasted little time getting on the board once again.
After forcing the Fauquier offense into third-and-long, Luke Pingley blew past the offensive line and recorded a sack to force the Falcons to punt. Two plays later, Woodard scored on a 42-yard run on nearly the same play as his first score.
"The coaches keep stressing to play with a full heart," Pingley said. "We have high expectations and we want to be a playoff team. For us to do that, we have to be able to step up in these situations the way we did tonight."
"We made some changes at halftime," Woodard said. "We started running to the weak side, because we saw they were crashing down on our strong side. It was really great to get the first score, because I wasn't feeling too confident and that really sparked me."
With the Falcons on their heels, Skyline looked to put the dagger in. With four minutes remaining in the third, Woodard took a direct snap on the Hawks first play from scrimmage. Woodard faked a handoff and then threw deep down the middle of the field to a wide open Travis Custer for a 35-yard touchdown to ice the game.
"We run that play all the time," Woodard said. "I knew they were going to bite because they are so aggressive on defense. As soon as I faked, I saw the safety come up and Travis was able to get behind them."
Although the Skyline offense didn't take off until the second half, their defense and special teams each scored in the first half to keep them in the game and provide the momentum for the offensive resurgence.
Trailing 7-6 with the first quarter winding down, Dylan Hill fielded a kickoff and streaked past the Falcons coverage team, going untouched for a 69-yard kickoff return to give his team the lead. With that play, the excitement could be seen on the Hawks sideline as the momentum shifted.
Fauquier continued to fight and with their running game shut down, turned to the air. On a third down attempt, Falcons quarterback Garrett Diehl lofted a pass that was picked off by sophomore Jonta Baltimore, who returned it for his first career defensive touchdown as a Hawk.
"I was real excited to be able to make that play," Baltimore said. "It was big, but I just was glad to be able to help the team. The coaches keep telling us to get up and we just follow their lead. We want to be a playoff team this year and tonight I think we showed that we can be."