By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WINCHESTER - With the game hanging in the balance, the theme of the night for Skyline hurt them once again.
Two penalties helped stall a last-minute drive as the Hawks fell to Millbrook, 10-6, in Northwestern District action.
"Defensively, we played well enough to win the game," Skyline coach Heath Gilbert said. "Offensively, we just made too many mistakes.
"It's very disappointing."
The Hawks, which had bad field position much of the game, got a break when a punt by Millbrook's Tyler Gray only went two yards, giving the Hawks the ball at the Millbrook 20 with 1:47 left.
Skyline quarterback Corban Ruch ran for 10 yards to move the ball to the Millbrook 10. Two five-yard penalties and an incomplete pass forced the Hawks into a second-and-goal from the Millbrook 20.
On third-and-goal, Ruch connected with Marcus Turner for a five-yard gain. On fourth-and-goal, Ruch was sacked on a blitz by Isaiah Payne to seal the Pioneers' win.
"I'm so happy and proud of these guys," Millbrook coach Josh Haymore said. "Skyline's a good football team. Our kids fought all the way to the end. I'm proud of them."
Millbrook took the lead late in the first half. Bad field position led to the Hawks punting the ball from the Skyline 15. Skyline punter Dustin Weir's punt went to the Skyline 38 with 5:07 left in the first half.
The Pioneers used eight plays to go 38 yards, including a 14-yard pass from quarterback Mark Paxton to Taylor James. Paxton capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Josh Dantzler on third-and-goal to put the Pioneers up 7-0 with 1:05 left in the first half.
Both teams had their opportunities in the first half to put points on the board.
On their second drive of the game, the Hawks used 10 plays to move the ball to the Millbrook 15. Skyline running back Jerrius Baltimore carried the ball seven times on the drive for 62 yards.
On fourth-and-3 from the Millbrook 16, Baltimore picked up only one yard, giving the ball back to Millbrook.
The Pioneers put together a solid drive late in the first quarter. Millbrook used 12 plays to go 45 yards, including making a first down on fourth-and-1.
The Hawks' defense stepped up and forced a Millbrook punt after the Pioneers drove the ball to the Skyline 17. Two Pioneer penalties helped push Millbrook out of field-goal range.
"Defensively, we really battled out there," Gilbert said. "We didn't give up the big play. We kept them out of the end zone. We just didn't make enough plays on offense."
Millbrook used 10 plays to drive 63 yards to start the second half.
Skyline's defense stepped up and held them to a 30-yard field goal by Gray to give Millbrook a 10-0 lead.
The Hawks responded. Skyline needed only five plays to go 80 yards. The big play on the drive was a 44-yard pass from Ruch to Turner.
Baltimore capped off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 10-6 with 6:22 left in the third quarter.
Two penalties hurt two other Skyline drives in the second half, and a fumbled snap and an interception ended another threat.
Baltimore, who missed last week's game with an ankle injury, ran for 111 yards on 19 carries to lead the Hawks.
Gilbert said the team has to put this loss behind them with a tough schedule coming up.
"We've got Washington next week. Then we have Homecoming and Handley and Sherando. It's not going to get any easier," Gilbert said. "We just have to stay together and keep working hard."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd