By Greg Brill - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Bad breaks continue to haunt Handley's winless football team.
When it wasn't penalties holding them back, the Judges could not stop Fauquier's two-way standout Garrett Diehl from making big plays.
Even when Handley stunned the Falcons with two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the space of 20 seconds, Diehl had one more scoring drive left to put Fauquier's 49-24 win to bed.
Diehl had a part in six of the seven touchdowns scored by the Falcons (3-1). He opened the scoring with a pick-six less than two minutes into the game to put the Falcons ahead for good. Diehl also threw a touchdown strike to J.P. Rodriguez with three seconds left in the first half and added another long scoring toss to Rodriquez in the opening seconds of the second half.
When Handley (0-3) closed to 35-24 midway through the fourth quarter, Diehl capped a 65-yard drive with a 6-yard run with 3:24 left to play.
"You can only contain certain players for so long and [Diehl's} a great quarterback," Handley two-way starter Trae Peck said. "He made a lot of plays."
Diehl's day was done when freshman Deandre Jackson had Fauquier's second interception return for a touchdown with a little more than a minute left.
Playing close to 90 snaps on a warm afternoon, Diehl completed 20 of 27 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a game-high 103 yards on 12 carries and two scores, and also had the 20-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"I love it -- I'll do whatever [is needed]," Diehl said. "You've got to lead."
The Falcons had tried to prepare for playing not only a rare Saturday game, but also ways the passing game could beat the Judges all over the field.
Handley had trouble wrapping up for tackles at times, and the Falcons usually made the Judges pay for it. On a reception near the Fauquier sideline, Darius Stanford (eight catches, 124 yards) spun off an arm tackle at the Handley 45 and raced the rest of the way for a 60-yard touchdown.
The Judges got right back in it with a 61-yard drive, capped by quarterback Josiah Patrick's first of three rushing touchdowns.
Then came another bad break for Handley. Fauquier drove deep before Diehl made a rare mistake and zipped a pass right into the hands of Handley defensive back Jawaun Goynes, who thrilled the home crowd with a 96-yard return for an apparent touchdown. But a clip was called, 15 yards away, and negated the run.
"When you lose, things like that go the other way," Handley coach Tony Rayburn said. "Right now, that's what's going on for us."
Fauquier eventually forced the Judges to punt, and Diehl got the Falcons back in the end zone late. A key 29-yard reception by Stanford on fourth down got the ball inside the 5 and Diehl hooked up with Rodriguez in the back of the end zone from the 3 with three seconds left in the half.
"It's always great going into halftime up another score," Diehl said. "We just made a great read and made a play. We rolled with it."
If that wasn't enough, on the second play of the third quarter, Diehl lobbed a pass to the middle for Rodriguez (five catches, 81 yards), who ran past the defense to complete the 52-yard, run-and-catch for a 28-10 lead.
"J.P. Rodriguez -- it was his coming-out [game] today," Fauquier coach Mark Scott said. "He probably had five catches total coming into today. We knew he had that kind of potential.
"With Darius Stanford on the other side -- he's an all-region kid -- and the other kids, Sean Onstad [four catches] and Ben Samall [three catches], we feel comfortable throwing to them, too. We feel like we have a lot of options."
The Judges brought a brief scare to the Falcons in the fourth. After Patrick (174 all-purpose yards) scored from the 1 with 8:02 left to play, Handley recovered an on-side kick just inside midfield. The first play from there saw Patrick race 46 yards down the near side to cut Fauquier's lead to 11 with 7:42 left.
But Diehl did his thing again and drove Fauquier to another touchdown.
"We didn't tackle in space well, but part of that was [due to] Fauquier's offense," Rayburn said. "Fauquier's tough. Their coach said [Diehl] plays on all special teams, offense and defense. He can run, he can pass.
"He's accurate. It's dangerous to pressure him because he can run."
The Judges improved their blocking enough to allow Peck to rush for 69 yards on 17 carries. Peck was put in at tailback when Delroy McDaniel (50 yards) was moved up to fullback in place of the injured Tirone Young.
The Judges were also missing both outside linebackers, including blitz specialist Dexter Sloane. Goynes hurt his shoulder when he lost a jump ball with Stanford on Fauquier's late first-half scoring drive and did not return for the second half.
Throw in 98 yards (including 78 in the first half) in penalties and it was a bit too much for the Judges to overcome.
Handley is 0-3 for the first time since 1985, the season after the program won its first Group AA title.
"We're not used to being 0-3," Peck said. "Every loss we've had, we've tried to put it behind us. Come Monday, we've got to be ready to work and give it our all like we do on the field. Eventually, we're going to get a win. Eventually."