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Late push lifts Tuscarora past Briar Woods in football showdown

Senior running back James Douglas rushed for 98 yards in his first varsity game for Tuscarora. The bruising back helped the Huskies control the game clock in the second half.—Times-Mirror/Chuck Moore
In the beginning, there was offense and lots of it. The Tuscarora Huskies and Briar Woods Falcons ushered in the 2015 varsity football season Aug. 28 displaying the reasons many expect them to contend deep into the postseason.

Tuscarora senior quarterback Daniel Smith provided fans reason to believe the Huskies will return to the Virginia 5A state championship game. Smith connected on a seamless 35-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Sorrell on the game's opening drive to provide an early advantage for the home team.

The Falcons were unfazed.

Briar Woods quarterback D’Andre Thomas answered, commanding the Falcons' spread offense. Thomas showcased his athleticism, scoring twice on runs of 7 and 23 yards to give Briar Woods a 16-14 halftime lead.

Unfortunately for the Falcons, as the sun went down at Fortune Field in Leesburg, so too did their offensive production.

The Huskies controlled time of possession for much of the second half and scored the go-ahead touchdown late in regulation for a 22-16 victory.

The winning score - a 1-yard touchdown run by Smith - was set up by a clutch completion from Smith to Sorrell to convert fourth down and 14.

“I think all eyes were on me at that point but we made a play," Smith said. “Bryce made a great catch and it wasn’t easy with a guy on his back. Our offensive line picked up everyone they were supposed to. It was just a good play by the team.”

Tuscarora was able to overcome two touchdowns being nullified by penalty, two turnovers and a missed field goal to grind out the victory. Senior James Douglas, a transfer from Virginia Academy, rushed for 98 yards in his Huskies' debut.

Tuscarora coach Mike Burnett credited his team's ability to slow Thomas in the second half. Thomas finished with 174 combined rushing and passing yards.

“We made a commitment that we had to stop the quarterback,” Burnett reflected. “He killed us in the first half. He’s a tough kid, he’s a big kid and he can throw it too. He really gave us a lot of problems so we made the decision that we were going to make somebody else beat us.”

The Huskies have now won 15 of their last 16 games dating back to the start of the 2014 season. Next up for Tuscarora is a home date Sept. 4 versus crosstown rival Loudoun County.

Briar Woods will look to even its record Sept. 4 when the Falcons travel to Lorton to face South County.

-Photos by Chuck Moore


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