Sunday, December 2, 2007

Stone Bridge rallies past the Phantoms --
Surprise: Foes grind down Phoebus
Stone Bridge rallies past the Phantoms by abandoning its normal big-play philosophy.
December 2, 2007


— Stone Bridge's success isn't built on pound-it-up-the-middle football.

A dozen plays to score a touchdown? That's just not in the playbook.

Strike quickly, score quickly, do it again and stun the opponent into submission.

That's how the Bulldogs did it.

Until Saturday.

Locked into a physical game with Phoebus and trailing by three points in the third quarter, the Bulldogs abandoned their high-octane single-wing offense and went head-to-head with the Phantoms.

Stone Bridge won.

A 13-play, 84-yard drive — all on the ground — produced the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Then Stone Bridge kept the ball on the ground for eight straight plays for the clinching score.

The result: Stone Bridge 38, Phoebus 24, destroying the Phantoms' hopes of a repeat state championship.

"Usually our touchdowns come on big plays," running back Jeron Gouveia said. "We don't usually pound the ball that much up front."

On both drives, Gouveia was the focal point of the offense. He's better known as a defensive back, where he'll play at Virginia Tech, but he scored both touchdowns on short runs. Couple that with a 1-yard TD run earlier and he wound up with 19 carries for 101 yards and three scores. Eighty-eight of the yards and all three touchdowns came in the second half.

If the last name seems familiar, he's the son of former Washington Redskins linebacker Kurt Gouveia.

"Before the first half ended, I messed up pretty bad when I fumbled that punt," he said. "I knew I had to come back and let it go and make a big play."

With less than a minute to play in the half, Gouveia fumbled the ball away at the Phoebus 21. Tajh Boyd wound up throwing an 8-yard touchdown pass to give Phoebus a 21-14 halftime lead.

"His halftime speech was pretty angry," Gouveia said of coach Mickey Thompson's locker-room diatribe. "He was irritated because he said we were the better team and we weren't playing like it."

Said Thompson: "What I told them at halftime was, 'We are just kicking their butts up front.' I said, 'We're down 21-14 and we're just kicking their butts.' There's no reason we should be in a situation like this. We are a far better team to be down 21-14 when it's not even close."

The problem, said Thompson, was his team was trying to make big plays like it had all season, "but they were trying to make the big play against some exceptional athletes. You're just not going to make those big plays when you have athletes like that against you."

So, part way through the go-ahead drive, Thompson pulled the quarterback from the direct-snap single wing. Instead, the running backs took the direct snaps and ran right at Phoebus. Of the two drives, which took 22 plays, Gouveia carried 13 times.

"Catching the snap was an issue today," Thompson said. "I would have liked to have given him a few more blows, but I knew he could catch the ball. That's why he got so many carries. I just didn't trust anybody else.

"You take what you can get and play that tough, physical brand of football."

Newport News, Va., Daily Press

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