By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
LEESBURG -- Joseph Ojo had no doubt he was going to get the ball into the end zone.
Facing a third-and-goal from the Loudoun County 2-yard line with a little over two minutes left in the game, the Sherando junior running back followed the offensive line and burst into the end zone to give Sherando a 21-14 win over the Raiders on Thursday night.
"It was crazy," Ojo said of the touchdown. "I had faith that we would get in. I knew the offensive line would get enough of a push. I give all the credit to the offensive line.
"[Sherando] Coach [Bill] Hall called timeout and came out to talk us up. I knew our line would outmatch their line."
The run by Ojo, who finished the game with 230 yards on 32 carries, gave the Warriors the lead, just minutes after they had trailed for the first time in the game.
Loudoun County used a no-huddle offense to take its first lead of the game, 14-13 with 4:46 left. Sherando's Tre Porter took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 54 yards to the Loudoun County 35.
Two plays later, Sherando quarterback Jalen Brisco connected with Dominique Porter for a 19-yard gain to the Loudoun County 12. Ojo rushed 11 yards on the next play to give the Warriors a first-and-goal, to set up the winning score.
"I was really proud of the way the guys responded," Hall said. "They showed a lot of character when [Loudoun County] scored to go up."
The Raiders still had a chance, and using the no-huddle offense they marched down the field in the final minutes. Loudoun County moved the ball to the Sherando 22 with 1:36 left in the game.
A penalty moved the ball back to the 27, and two plays later Sherando's Brady Cook sealed the game with an interception in the end zone.
"I saw the quarterback throw the ball. I just went up and took it down," Cook said. "It felt pretty awesome."
The Warriors (4-0) had 291 yards on the ground, most of which came from Ojo. Sherando took the early lead on an 81-yard run straight up the middle by Ojo with 7:29 left in the first quarter.
"It was all the offensive line," Ojo said. "When I broke through and saw the big hole I just thought, 'Thank you.' I knew I was gone after that."
The Raiders (2-1) responded with a nine play, 60-yard drive, capped off by a Marcus Crews 24-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Kranias with 4:18 left in the opening quarter.
Both teams struggled offensively until the fourth quarter. The Raiders were focused on stopping Sherando's running game, but at times the Warriors showed they could pass, too.
Brisco connected with Dominique Porter on a short route, which Porter turned into touchdown by breaking a couple of tackles and weaving through traffic for a 24-yard score with 11:07 left. A botched snap on the ensuing extra point made the score 13-7.
"I just ran my route and Jalen saw me open and threw it to me," Porter said. "I knew I had to do what I could for the team."
The Warriors' defense played solid all night. They gave up 215 yards, most of which came on two drives.
Last year, Sherando lost 13-10 to Loudoun County in the final minutes. The Warriors were determined not to let it happen again.
"We got our revenge," Ojo said. "It was a close game that we lost last year and this year we won a close game.
"We didn't play our best. I think we can play so much better than we did. We need to get back to practice and fix the mistakes that we made and then we'll be so much better that what you saw tonight."