By Stephen Boyle - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- All Aaron Jeremiah could do was pace on the sidelines. With his team up 36-7 it didn't seem like his fourth quarter ejection would be a factor in Skyline's Homecoming game against Millbrook, but the Pioneers came storming back in the fourth quarter.
Jeremiah, the starting quarterback, kicker and punter for the Hawks, was thrown out of Friday's game for throwing a punch after breaking a 21-yard run. He will miss Skyline's next game pending a possible appeal.
Millbrook took advantage of the momentum shift after his ejection and scored three straight touchdowns, but Skyline hung on to win 43-29. On Millbrook's first offensive play of the fourth quarter, quarterback Justin Neff threw the ball to a wide open Tre White for a 66-yard touchdown pass to make the score 37-14.
Then Skyline went three and out on their first full offensive drive without Jeremiah. Neff responded with a 67-yard pass to Adrian DeNeal and then Justin Anderson ran in a touchdown from two-yards out to bring the Pioneers within two scores. Neff finished the game with 267 passing yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
"We're never going to quit playing. We've had good years and we've had bad years, but the one thing that's consistent is we never quit fighting," said Millbrook coach Reed Prosser following the loss. "We'll keep fighting until the clock says zero."
The Pioneers showed that spirit in the loss. They recovered an onside kick and Neff threw a 23-yard touchdown to Rze Cullbreath. Following a two-point conversion pass to Taylor James the Pioneers trailed by only eight points, 37-29 with 6:47 remaining in the fourth quarter and all Jeremiah could do was pace on the sidelines.
"I definitely think there was a mood swing," Skyline coach Heath Gilbert said of Jeremiah's ejection. "A year ago we would've folded and lost the football game."
For Gilbert, the Pioneers storming back was too similar to Skyline's loss to Washington last season, but on fourth-and-six from the Millbrook 37-yard line, Skyline completed a touchdown pass. Back-up quarterback Jerrius Baltimore handed the ball off to wideout Kylmen Breeden on what looked like an end-around, but Breeden looked down the field and found Nick Helmick on a crossing route for a touchdown that would ice the game.
"Coach just pulled out one of his tricks," said Breeden, who also had 83 rushing yards, 25 receiving yards and a touchdown in the game. "It was definitely one of the turning points in the game."
Breeden's touchdown pass made the score 43-29 and ensured Skyline would win the game. Millbrook's first district loss drops the team to 3-3 on the season, while Skyline is now 5-1 with their only loss coming against non-district opponent Kettle Run. After the game Gilbert said "Every district game is going to be a battle," but, Breeden thought the win had big implications.
"Skyline's winning district," he said with a smile.