When Briar Woods High School took to the football field for a Region II Division 4 semifinal game Nov. 16 against Liberty, a key component was missing.
Senior linebacker Matt Rolin, the Dulles District Defensive Player of the Year, sat in the press box watching his team, after suffering a season-ending knee injury the previous week against Powhatan.
But Rolin’s spirit resonated amongst his teammates, helping power the Falcons to a 42-14 thrashing of the visiting Eagles. The victory was the 26th in a row for Briar Woods (12-0).
“With the thing that happened to Matt last week, we realized any play could be our last so you have to play to your full potential,” Briar Woods quarterback Trace McSorley said. “I think this team really grasped that this week.”
Both teams came out guns blazing, with Liberty marching downfield on its opening drive to set fullback Wyatt Teller up with a 1-yard touchdown dive.
But the Falcons responded in kind, driving the ball 76 yards into the end zone. McSorley capped the drive with a 1-yard run.,
McSorley would add another score to start the second quarter when he found Devin Ramos in the back of the end zone. On the following Liberty possession, Daryll Gadsden picked off Tyler Longerbeam and returned it for a touchdown to put the Falcons up 21-7.
Liberty answered back when Longerbeam connected with Aristotle Howard on a 40-yard touchdown completion to to bring the Eagles within a score.
Liberty’s momentum would be short lived, however, as Brandon Polk returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown.
“Polk’s return was very critical,” Briar Woods head coach Charlie Pierce said. “It was upsetting because we used to give up a lot of big pass plays like that in the past, in certain situations and the last few years have been so much better with not doing that, so that was disappointing. But things happen. And then him making that big run on the kickoff was extraordinary.”
Briar Woods held Liberty scoreless the rest of the way and added a pair of touchdowns to pad its lead. Cory Colder and JT Logan added touchdown runs as the Falcons’ offense racked up 368 yards.
Defensively, Trei Germany recorded two sacks while leading a defensive line that held the Eagles to just 37 rushing yards.
Briar Woods will host Loudoun County in the Region II Division 4 title game Nov. 23. The Falcons defeated the Raiders, 45-0, in both team’s regular-season finale Nov. 2.
“It’s tough in preparation and it’s tough trying to do something different when it’s that quick a turnaround,” Pierce said of playing Loudoun County again. “We’ll see what happens.”
Briar Woods 42, Liberty 14
L: Howard 1 run (Morris kick) 7:16
BW: McSorley 1 run (LaFrankie kick) 2:15
BW: Ramos 7 pass from McSorley (kick failed) 8:43
BW: Gadsden 50 interception return (LaFrankie kick) 6:56
L: Howard 34 pass from Longerbeam (Chiccehitto kick) 2:10
BW: Polk 85 kickoff return (LaFrankie kick) 2:05
BW: Colder 2 run (LaFrankie kick) 7:05
BW: Logan 16 run (LaFrankie kick) 7:07
-Rushing: L - Howard (13 for 15 yards); BW - McSorley (8 for 124 yards, TD), Colder (12 for 43 yards, TD), Logan (3 for 37 yards, TD), Ford (6 for 31 yards)
-Passing: L - Longerbeam (8 of 15 for 97 yards, TD, Int.); BW - McSorley (12 of 14 for 96 yards, TD, Int.)
-Receiving: L - Utterback (2 for 31 yards), Howard (2 for 28 yards, TD); BW - Serigne (4 for 44 yards), Miller (2 for 25 yards), Ramos (2 for 18 yards, TD)
-Tackles: L - Hogan (7), Teller (7); BW - Jacob (6), Logan (5), Krisfalusi (5), Merletti (5), Larco (5)
-Sacks: BW - Germany (2), Jacob (1), Ramey (1), Knight (1)
-Interceptions: L - Munson (1); BW - Gadsden (1)
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