December is Cory Colder’s time to shine. The Briar Woods High School senior running back relishes playing in big games and he delivered once again in the Virginia Division 4 state football semifinals Dec. 1 against Courtland.
Despite playing through a separated right shoulder injury that required him to have his arm in a sling earlier in the week, Colder carried the ball 30 times for 180 yards and four touchdowns to help lift the host Falcons to a 45-15 win over the Cougars.
“I knew by Friday I was giving it a go,” said Colder, whose availability for the game was in question after missing two days of practice. “I felt great and my offensive line did a heck of a job blocking.”
Colder has eclipsed 100 rushing yards in each of his last three December games. The 5-foot-8, 190-pound back churned out 305 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a pair of state playoff wins last year.
“These are the games I live for,” Colder said. “We’ve been here so many times.”
Briar Woods (14-0) took another step towards claiming its third consecutive Virginia Division 4 state championship. The Falcons will face Heritage (Lynchburg) in the state final Dec. 8, 4:30 p.m. at Liberty University in Lynchburg. Heritage (12-1) defeated Salem, 24-16, in the semifinals.
Along with Colder, junior quarterback Trace McSorley surpassed 100 rushing yards in the semifinal win. Overall, Briar Woods racked up 339 rushing yards with tackles Nick Merletti and Trei Germany, guards Jared Coker and Josh Jacob and center Brian McKelvey paving the way.
Briar Woods coach Charlie Pierce said Courtland’s defensive alignment lent itself to the Falcons’ run-first approach, adding “You just have to get a hat on a hat and have some good splits. You have to plant your foot in the ground and get upfield.”
McSorley, 41-3 as a varsity starter, connected with a wide open Cam Serigne on a 43-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter. The Falcons scored four touchdowns during an 11-minute span of the second half to turn a 17-9 halftime lead into a 45-9 advantage.
“Jared Develli has done a good job all year of instigating good motivation at halftime,” Pierce said of the Falcon assistant coach. “Jared said ‘we are going to stop them on this first series and go down and score, and then we are going to stop them again and go down and score.’ He’s been right on all year with that stuff.”
Region I champion Courtland (9-5) was limited to 47 rushing yards in the loss, averaging less than two yards per carry. The Cougars did find some success through the air as quarterback Eric Washington passed for 161 yards and two scores.
Junior Chris Larco led Briar Woods with eight tackles, while senior JT Logan recorded seven stops. Junior kicker Nick LaFrankie connected on a 35-yard field goal to open the game’s scoring and also converted all six of his extra-point attempts.
The Falcons have now won a state-best 28 consecutive games. Colder and his teammates will look to extend that mark to 29 and complete their first perfect season with another December performance to remember against Heritage in the state final.
“I’m not done yet,” Colder said with a grin. “Next week, I want to do even better.”
Briar Woods 45, Courtland 15
BW: LaFrankie 35 field goal, 7:21
BW: Colder 3 run (LaFrankie kick) 3:15
C: Yurgel 27 field goal, 0:00
C: Carpenter 49 pass from Washington (kick blocked) 9:20
BW: Colder 1 run (LaFrankie kick) 5:29
BW: Serigne 43 pass from McSorley (LaFrankie kick) 9:28
BW: McSorley 80 run (LaFrankie kick) 6:17
BW: Colder 1 run (LaFrankie kick) 2:17
BW: Colder 3 run (LaFrankie kick) 10:25
C: Grant 33 pass from Washington (run failed) 6:24
-Rushing: C - Jenkins (12 for 26 yards); BW - Colder (30 for 182 yards, 4 TD), McSorley (7 for 111 yards, TD), Ford (4 for 22 yards)
-Passing: C - Washington (11 of 20 for 161 yards, 2 TD); BW - McSorley (5 of 10 for 126 yards, TD, Int.)
-Receiving: C - Carpenter (5 for 126 yards, TD), Grant (4 for 42 yards, TD); BW - Serigne (1 for 43 yards, TD), Logan (1 for 38 yards), Polk (1 for 19 yards), Ramos (1 for 17 yards)
-Tackles: C - Robinson (9), Talley (6), Carpenter (6), Glover (6); BW - Larco (8), Logan (7), Jacob (6), Merletti (6)
-All photos by Greg Nash
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