A magical season began coming apart at the seams for Stone Bridge High School in the Northern Region Division 5 football championship game Nov. 23 in Ashburn.
Taking full advantage of four Bulldog turnovers and aided by the game-breaking ability of M.J. Stewart, Yorktown scored 29 straight points, including 19 points during a two-minute span early in the second quarter, to build a 29-7 lead.
“I kept thinking this couldn’t happen for the whole game,” Stone Bridge coach Mickey Thompson said. “It was a matter of holding on to the football. We were better than them up front. I think they knew it, we knew it.”
Stone Bridge responded to the surprising deficit in championship form. The Bulldogs stuck to their game plan and scored on their next eight possessions, rattling off 55 consecutive points on their way to a 69-50 victory.
“We weren’t going to lose,” Stone Bridge senior quarterback Ryan Burns said. “That was our mindset throughout the game. No one really panicked. We came together as a team and it worked out really well.”
The comeback victory earned Stone Bridge its eighth regional championship since 2002. The Bulldogs will travel to Mechanicsville Dec. 1 to face Central Region champion Hanover (9-3) in the Division 5 state semifinals.
Stone Bridge began its rally in the region final with a pair of scoring drives during the final seven minutes of the second quarter to pull within 29-22 at the half.
Yorktown lost six yards on the opening possession of the second half and were forced to punt. Rassaun Goldring caught the punt in stride and returned it 44 yards for a Bulldog touchdown.
Goldring also returned a kickoff 86 yards for a score late in regulation. The senior atoned for his two lost fumbles with the electrifying returns.
“I felt like I was losing the game for my team,” Goldring said. “I didn’t like that feeling. A couple of teammates came to me and were like ‘Rassaun, you can do it. We have faith in you, we know you are good. Just take a couple of deep breaths.’ That’s what I did. I took a couple of deep breaths and got my composure back.”
Stone Bridge failed on a two-point conversion after Goldring’s punt return and still trailed by one. That deficit would be short lived as senior Jonathan Allen recovered a fumble on Yorktown’s next play from scrimmage to set the Bulldog offense up at the Patriot 8-yard line.
Two plays later, senior Christian Strahin scored on a 1-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 34-29 lead. Stone Bridge would add three more touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the third to grow its advantage to 54-29.
Burns set a Bulldog record for passing yards in a season on his lone attempt of the fourth quarter. Burns connected with D’Ante Yarborough on a 90-yard touchdown completion to push his season total to 2,365 yards.
“It’s cool but definitely not the goal,” Burns said of the record. “We have a state championship to win. That’s our mindset.”
Yarborough eclipsed 200 total yards and scored three times in the win. Sterling Dailey paced the Bulldogs’ rushing attack 147 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.
Stewart added to his impressive stat line of 233 total yards and five touchdowns with two more rushing scores in the fourth quarter. Yorktown, the 2012 National District champions, concludes its stellar season at 12-1.
Stone Bridge 69, Yorktown 50
SB: Dailey 2 run (Smedley kick) 9:09
Y: Stewart 69 pass from Roebuck (Wall kick) 8:12
Y: Wall 25 field goal, 3:59
Y: Stewart 14 pass from Roebuck (kick blocked) 11:25
Y: Yore 34 pass from Roebuck (Wall Kick) 11:07
Y: Stewart 23 run (kick blocked) 9:30
SB: Dailey 7 run (Yarborough run) 6:55
SB: Burns 4 run (Smedley kick) 0:46
SB: Goldring 44 punt return (run failed) 11:10
SB: Strahin 1 run (run failed) 9:51
SB: Yarborough 20 pass from Burns (Smedley kick) 6:44
SB: Yarborough 40 run (Smedley kick) 2:37
SB: Dailey 1 run (Smedley kick) 0:30
SB: Yarborough 20 pass from Burns (Smedley kick) 8:06
Y: Stewart 65 run (pass failed) 7:55
Y: Stewart 13 run (Roebuck pass to Yore) 5:17
Y: Gregory 70 pass from Roebuck (Wall kick) 1:08
SB: Goldring 86 kickoff return (Smedley kick) 0:44
SB offensive leaders
-Rushing: Dailey (25 for 147 yards, 3 TD), Yarborough (5 for 85 yards, TD), Goldring (6 for 28 yards), Strahin (6 for 25 yards, TD)
-Passing: Burns (5 of 7 for 175 yards, 2 TD, Int.)
-Receiving: Yarborough (3 for 119 yards, 2 TD), Higgins (1 for 44 yards), Kuzbel (1 for 12 yards)
-All photos by Greg Nash
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