Going into halftime with just a 17-14 lead against Loudoun County, Briar Woods' coach Charlie Pierce challenged his team.
“My concern to start the third quarter was are we going to have a better second half than last week,” Pierce said, referencing a rare Falcon’s loss to Colonial Forge in the team’s previous contest. “I challenged our players at halftime, man-to-man, team-to-team, about our play.”
Pierce’s challenge set the stage for a furious second half as the host Falcons rattled off 35 unanswered points to pull away for a 52-14 victory Sept. 12 in Ashburn.
Despite County’s John Jackson returning the opening second-half kickoff to the Briar Woods’ 37-yard line, a staunch Falcon defense held strong, stopping the Raiders on fourth down after 10 plays.
Starting at its own 18-yard line, Briar Woods senior quarterback Jake Maffe led the offense downfield, with completions of 15 and 37 yards to Brandon Polk and Anthony Martinez, respectively. Polk added a long run of 21 yards, and Maffe capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
“Our defense held and then we went down and scored and that set the tempo for the second half,” Pierce said. “That changed the momentum right then.”
From there, the Falcons (2-1) exploded into a flurry of points while largely stifling the Raiders' offense. After adding another touchdown in the third quarter on a 14-yard Maffe-to-Polk pass, Briar Woods sealed the game four minutes into the fourth by scoring three touchdowns in a little more than one minute of game time.
Martinez started the barrage, rushing for a 6-yard touchdown to cap a short drive. Senior Dylan Bowie would add another six for the Falcons just 30 seconds later after a fumbled kick return. Two plays into the Raiders’ ensuing drive, 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive lineman Darrell Ramey picked off County quarterback Takwan Crews-Naylor and returned the ball 30 yards for a touchdown for the last score.
The Falcon defensive line was largely the star of the contest, sacking Crews-Naylor six times for a total loss of 59 yards. County (2-1) would finish the game with negative rushing yards and just 103 yards of total offense.
“The one thing we’ve been consistent on this year is our defensive line play,” Pierce said. “With Dominic Moore, [Mark Birmingham, Darrell Ramey and Bryan Capozolli] up front, they are stalwarts on our defense. They’re all starters from last year and they’re physical guys.”
For their part, the Raiders hung with the Falcons in the first half, forcing a fumble in the first quarter and later blocking a punt that Cristian McDowell returned for a score. In the second quarter, a 36-yard pass from Crews-Naylor to Antonio Jackson would set the quick quarterback up for a 15-yard touchdown run. County then favorably concluded the first half, with junior defensive back Sosthene Kah intercepting Maffe in the end zone to keep the Raiders within three.
“[Briar Woods is] 2-3 deep at every position and we just don’t have that,” County coach Todd Hill said. “Our kids played as hard as they could, they just ran out of gas. I’m proud of the effort they gave.”
“I really don’t think the scoreboard is indicative of the effort our kids gave,” Hill added.
After rebounding from their loss against Colonial Forge, the Falcons face yet another test on the road when they travel to North Stafford on Sept. 19. County will look to get back in the win column Sept. 18 at home against Park View.
Briar Woods 52, Loudoun County 14
BW: Funke 22 field goal, 7:35
LC: McDowell 9 punt return (conversion failed, 0:32
BW: Hinson 8 run (Funke kick), 0:05
BW: Maffe 55 pass to Carter (Funke kick), 6:38
LC: Crews-Naylor 15 run (A. Jackson pass to J. Jackson), 0:40
BW: Maffe 1 run (Funke kick), 4:52
BW: Maffe 14 pass to Polk (Funke kick), 0:36
BW: Martinez 6 run (Funke kick), 8:41
BW: Bowie 24 fumble return (Funke kick), 8:30
BW: Ramey 30 interception return (Funke kick), 7:34
-Rushing: LC - John Jackson (13-13); BW - Jordan Hinson (11-99-1), Brandon Polk (6-67)
-Passing: LC - Takwan Crews-Naylor (13 of 24 for 114 yards, Int.); BW - Jake Maffe (6 of 14 for 153 yards, 2 TD, Int.)
-Receiving: LC - Antonio Jackson (8-86), Jake Frye (3-19); BW - Anthony Martinez (3-69), Brandon Polk (2-29-1), Tristan Carter (1-55-1)
-Photos by Rick Wasser