By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
NOKESVILLE - Brentsville was on the verge of snapping their long losing streak on Saturday night against Skyline. However, the Hawks had other ideas and rallied in the final minutes to pull out a 40-37 non-district football win.
Brentsville quarterback Richard Harryman crossed the goal-line on a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Tigers up 37-33 with a mere 3:05 remaining on the game clock.
The Brentsville team and fans were ecstatic at the prospect of finally ending their 41-game losing streak.
But that joyful prospect lasted only 1:25, as the Hawks executed a three-play drive, cashing in on a 29-yard Corban Ruch-to-Marcus Turner pass, to put Skyline up, 40-37, with 1:45 remaining.
The score stood up as Brentsville (0-3) couldn't gain a first down on the ensuing possession and Skyline (2-1) let the remaining 27 seconds expire after taking over on downs.
The Hawks' game-winning drive started deep in their own territory, at the 15.
On the first play, Ruch connected with wide receiver Jamal Parker for a 52-yard strike to the Brentsville 33. Then Jerrius Baltimore rushed for four yards to the 29.
Ruch then connected with Turner (five receptions for 120 yards, 24 yard avg.) and he weaved his way into the end zone to put Skyline up, 40-37.
"[I] just wanted to make sure I'd throw a good ball and I mean, give it up to my line, I had great protection the whole game," Ruch said of the final drive. "It was just awesome for me to be able to play with them and know they had my back.
"[Coach Health Gilbert] had a strategy going into that possession. We had some plays we thought might work. I can depend on Marcus [Turner], and all my receivers. They did a wonderful job tonight."
"My play just happened to be the third play in the set-up, and I was able to go ahead and score the game-winning touchdown," Turner said. "My line and my outside receiver blocked for me and I just ran off of them. I had to read my blocks and I got to the outside and was determined to score."
The Tigers took the lead in the first quarter, 8-6, as Christian Aldea ran for a 7-yard TD and ran in the two-point conversion. The Hawks tallied with a 76-yard Ruch-to-Turner touchdown pass with 40 seconds remaining in the frame, one of several big-play strikes executed by Skyline.
The Hawks dominated the second frame to go up 26-8.
Baltimore scampered 45 yards into the end-zone on a punt return with only a minute having expired. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
On the Hawks' next possession, Ruch (9-for-14, 270 yards, 3 TDs) threw a 45-yard TD connection to wide receiver Jamal Parker, at the 7:06 mark, and the PAT kick went wide.
Skyline Gerren Butler sprained his ankle last week, and didn't enter Saturday's game with 2:47 left in the first half. On his very first carry, Butler ripped off a 60-yard scoring romp, downshifted with a limp to about three-quarter speed around the 20-yard line, and gutted out the remaining territory, apparently having re-injured his right ankle.
The two-point conversion pass was good, giving Skyline a 26-8 lead, which it carried into the locker room at halftime.
"At first, I was good, and around about the 20-yard line, I felt it pop again, and I was just determined to score," Butler said.
Using a hurry-up offense that clearly unsettled Skyline's defense, Brentsville put on a dazzling offensive display in the second half, lighting up the scoreboard with 29 additional points.
On the Tigers' first possession of the third quarter, Aldea (155 yards, 2 TDs, on 15 carries) ripped off a 66-yard TD run down the left sideline, followed by a two-point conversion, narrowing the score to 26-16.
Skyline answered on its next possession with a 17-yard TD run by Baltimore (13 carries for 66 yards, 1 TD), making it 33-16.
The ensuing Brentsville possession began at its 25, with 7:24 on the clock.
The Tigers kept the ball for nearly six minutes, executing a 14-play drive, with five first-downs. It was capped off by a Harryman-to-Braden Mitchem 4-yard TD pass on fourth down. The two-point try failed, making it 33-22.
The first nine minutes of the fourth quarter belonged to the Tigers, mostly carried on the legs of senior running back Ben Loa, who lugged the pigskin for 86 yards on 10 carries in the frame.
Loa punched in a 15-yard scoring run, followed by a two-point conversion, to bring Brentsville within 33-30 with 10:08 on the clock.
On Skyline's next possession, the Hawks tried for a first down on a fourth-and-four at the Brentsville 45, but Baltimore was stopped for no gain on a tackle by Adam Keiser at the 7:03 mark.
The Tigers then undertook another of their multiple-play drives. Ten plays and four first-downs later, Brentsville had a second-and-goal at the Skyline 1.
Skyline defenders Travis Siever and Bradley Carson stuffed Loa for no gain, setting up Harryman's go-ahead keeper.
On the ensuing kick-off, Skyline DB Tyrone Thomas-Hoffman went down with an injury. After about a 15-minutes of on-field attention, Thomas-Hoffman was taken off the field on a stretcher.
"He dislocated his shoulder, and it may be season-ending," Gilbert said.
Gilbert said he was not pleased with his defense.
"I really want to see the film, to see what we were doing [on defense]," Gilbert said. "I know we're better than that. Were we off balance, or misaligning, what was going on in there? We weren't playing good technique. At the same time, I did get overly aggressive. When we get past the 50, I'm not going to punt the ball. They stopped us twice on fourth down to give the defense a short field. So some of that is on me.
"I also want to see the film on offense. We had some big plays brought back because of holding [penalties]. We've got to clean that up. If we can't do that without holding, we're going to be in trouble."