Just when it looked like the Loudoun Valley Vikings were on the rise following consecutive wins, the Potomac Falls Panthers came to Leonard Stadium in Purcellville Oct. 12 with other thoughts.
The Panthers built a 16-0 halftime lead and held off a Viking rally in the second half to keep their postseason hopes alive with a 22-13 victory.
“We were ready to play,” Potomac Falls coach Mike Gims said. “Our guys were hyped up and they went out and believed in themselves and pulled it out.”
Senior Kareen Watson, a game-time decision due to a wrist injury, did his part by scoring twice, once on offense and the other on defense.
Following a Viking fumble, the Panthers scored on their first series when senior quarterback Michael Fischetti connected with Watson for a 27-yard strike in the corner of the end zone.
“We studied their film a lot and saw they like to bite on double moves, so that was the perfect opportunity,” Watson said. “I just went behind the defensive back and made the play. This is one of the games that we had to win in order to get to the playoffs. This is the beginning of our second season.”
Potomac Falls (2-3 in the Dulles District, 2-5 overall) dominated the first half. Along with Watson’s receiving score, Senior Steven Lumsden converted a 29-yard field goal and Fischetti scored on a 1-yard run in the final minute of the half.
“It was probably one of our best weeks of practice,” Fischetti said. “We came in [Oct.8] on our day off and had a real good practice on [Oct. 10] without Kareen.”
Loudoun Valley (2-3, 3-4) came out in the second half with more emotion and made a game out of it. The Vikings pulled within 16-13 behind short touchdown runs by sophomores Sully Warner and Andrew Cordani.
“I tip my hat to them, “Gims said, “I told our guys they were going to give us their best shot and they did.”
After cutting the deficit to three, the Vikings chose to kick deep instead of trying an onside kick. Senior J.D. Birks returned the kick to near midfield and a 15-yard penalty by Loudoun Valley moved the ball into Viking territory.
“They tried some squib kicks earlier and we handled them pretty well,” Gims said. “I think they were trying to get the ball deep and stop us. It just worked out for us and our guys held on. We had a close game earlier in the year with Heritage, and I think that was going through back of their minds.”
The Panthers punted and pinned the Vikings deep with less than one second on the clock. Warner’s deep pass was intercepted by Watson and returned 60 yards for a touchdown to put the exclamation point on the win.
“My coaches wanted me to go down, but in my heart I wanted to score,” Watson said of his defensive touchdown.
Video: Potomac Falls seniors Kareen Watson and Michael Fischetti talk about the Panthers’ 22-13 win at Loudoun Valley.—Times-Mirror Video/Michael “Moe” Murphy
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