An explosive third quarter proved to be the difference for host Tuscarora High School as the Huskies overcame an uneven first half to defeat Millbrook, 42-21, in a Region II Division 4 first round playoff game on a cold Nov. 9 evening in Leesburg.
After being held scoreless and trailing for a majority of the first half, the Huskies (10-1) reached the end zone five times during a 14-minute stretch—highlighted by a 28-0 surge in the final nine minutes of the third quarter—to pull away from the Pioneers (6-5).
The 42-21 final was nearly identical to the 41-21 final score when the teams met Aug. 24 at Millbrook to kick off the 2012 season. Tuscarora led the first meeting, 21-3, at halftime, but found itself tied 7-7 at the half in the rematch.
“We told our kids let’s just stay the course, be disciplined,” Tuscarora coach Mike Burnett said. “We really didn’t do anything different in the second half. We were able to make a few more plays. They made all the plays in the first half and we made the plays in the second half.”
The Huskies followed up both of their offensive touchdowns in the third quarter with defensive scores. Courtez Day forced a fumble and Ryan Abbate returned it 24 yards for the first defensive touchdown. Late in the third, David Chalmers deflected a pass leading to Jack Coates’ interception and 51-yard return for another score.
Jason Chubbuck also came up with a big defensive play. With Millbrook driving inside the red zone and threatening to regain the lead late in the first half, Chubbuck intercepted a pass to thwart the drive.
Adrien Stinger, Noah Reimers and Mali Barker each eclipsed 80 rushing yards in the win. All three players, along with quarterback Nick Azzarita, rushed for a touchdown.
Azzarita was efficient through the air, completing 7 of 8 passes for 68 yards. John Boris was his top target, catching three passes for 20 yards.
The victory advances the Huskies to the region semifinals for a second straight year. Tuscarora will host Leesburg rival Loudoun County (9-2) in the Region II Division 4 semifinals Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.
“We’ve beaten them the last two times,” Burnett said. “We tell the kids that you have to keep earning your respect and we think this is how we are going to do it. We have to beat them one more time. You win a state championship by beating the best teams and that’s what we have to do these next few weeks.”
Tuscarora 42, Millbrook 21
M: Anderson 1 run (Gray kick) 9:21
T: Reimers 11 run (Miller kick) 1:41
T: Stinger 6 run (Miller kick) 8:34
T: Abbate 24 fumble return (Miller kick) 7:07
T: Azzarita 2 run (Miller kick) 1:33
T: Coates 51 interception return (Miller kick) 0:31
M: Neff 10 run (Gray kick) 6:51
T: Barker 40 run (Miller kick) 4:31
M: Bruce 74 pass from Neff (Gray kick) 3:07
-Rushing: M - Anderson (17 for 115 yards, TD); T - Stinger (17 for 127 yards, TD), Reimers (20 for 90 yards, TD), Barker (9 for 81 yards, TD)
-Passing: M - Neff (13 of 32 for 241 yards, TD, 3 Int.); T - Azzarita (7 of 8 for 68 yards)
-Receiving: M - Anderson (4 for 38 yards), Bruce (3 for 93 yards, TD), Culbreath (3 for 64 yards), DeNeal (2 for 36 yards); T - Boris (3 for 20 yards)
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