Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stone Bridge pummels Potomac

PREP FOOTBALL: Stone Bridge pummels Potomac for D-5 title

By Scott Ratcliffe / Daily Progress correspondent
December 9, 2007

Stone Bridge head coach Mickey Thompson finally got over the hump. On a Saturday afternoon when the 18-year coach returned to his alma mater’s stadium to play for the VHSL Division 5 championship, his Bulldogs made it look easy, knocking off previously undefeated Potomac, 38-0, at Scott Stadium.

“So many guys are getting their opportunities, and there’s no jealousy, there’s no fighting, and the guys just played hard together, and I thought that was a big part of what happened today,” Thompson said. “We’ve got so many playmakers and so many guys who can make a big play, it’s incredible.”

Both teams got off to a seemingly slow start, as neither managed to score in the opening quarter. Potomac had a few golden opportunities early, but squandered them away with turnovers, penalties, and a botched snap on a field-goal attempt with a few seconds to play in the first quarter.

It appeared as if the fans in attendance would possibly be in for a defensive stalemate. Stone Bridge’s duo of quarterback Patrick Thompson (the coach’s son) and receiver Ryan Moody, however, would soon give their faithful something to cheer about, and they did it in a big way.

Just a minute into the second quarter, Thompson connected with Moody on a 42-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead, and the two were just getting started. Potomac running back Darius Brent helped give the Panthers a shot to tie the game on the ensuing drive with a 32-yard scamper, leading his team down to the Stone Bridge 19-yard line. Panther kicker Eric Dobratz missed a 36-yard attempt, and the score remained 7-0.

The Bulldog offense moved the ball right back into Potomac territory, and with tremendous protection from the offensive line, Thompson threw a laser to Moody that was caught, but when he hit the ground the ball popped up in the air, and reserve tight end John Bladel came out of nowhere to get a hand under it in the end zone, pushing the Bulldogs lead to 14-0.

Moody had fumbled the ball away late in the 2005 state championship game, a game that Stone Bridge lost, and he says that still haunts him to this day.

“I felt so bad for the seniors of that class,” Moody admitted. “I still think about it, I thought about it last night before this game. ‘Keep my eye on the ball’ was the gameplan for me for today. I told [Coach] Thompson all year, I owe him this ring, and I felt like I did a good job getting him that ring today.”

Potomac started a nice drive into Stone Bridge territory, but again shot itself in the foot, as Panthers quarterback DeAirius Thomas was clobbered as he threw a pass, and Stone Bridge’s Jeron Gouveia picked off the pass at the 25-yard line with just two minutes left in the first half. Stone Bridge drove the length of the field with the help of direct snaps and fake handoffs, and Ronnie Shaban kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Bulldogs a 17-0 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, Gouveia, who plays both offense and defense, converted on two third downs and one fourth down, to give Stone Bridge another opportunity to score, and Thompson again hooked up with his favorite target, Moody, this time from 48 yards out with 4:11 left in the period.

Then, just when Potomac coach Ted Lilly thought his team would make a game of it, the Panthers turned the ball over on downs twice. Stone Bridge added to its lead, as Thompson again hit Moody on a 20-yard strike with about 7 minutes left, to go up 31-0. Junior halfback Daniel Allen added a 6-yard touchdown run with 4:03 to play to seal the deal.

Patrick Thompson finished the game with 286 yards passing and four touchdowns, while Moody had six grabs for 158 yards and three trips to the end zone.

Potomac committed 13 penalties for 104 yards, turned the ball over three times and was just 2 of 9 on third-down conversions. Brent finished with a team-high 61 yards rushing, and Donald Vaughn led the Panthers with 84 yards receiving on four catches.

“It’s been a heck of a ride for us this season,” coach Lilly said after the game. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of the young men that I had an opportunity to work with this season.”

Potomac’s defense held the single-wing offense of Stone Bridge to just 67 yards, but gave up big plays through the air. The Panthers finished the season with a record of 13-1.

Thompson was asked what it was like winning his first championship at his alma mater, with his sons contributing significantly.

“It was one of those things that people dream of,” he said. “Words can’t describe it.”

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