Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bulldogs return to basics, march into region semis

By Dan Sousa
Source: Special to the Loudoun Times-Mirror

FALLS CHURCH -- Stone Bridge High School football fans might have thought the drive was long to a Nov. 13 “home” playoff game, moved to Marshall High School’s turf field because of unplayable field conditions in Ashburn.

But that was nothing compared to the Bulldogs' opening series.

Just a week after rushing for 300 yards in a regular-season ending 45-22 win over South Lakes, Stone Bridge took the field again against the Seahawks Friday night. And like last time, they ran the ball again ... and again ... and again.

Stone Bridge (10-1) ran the ball a bone-crunching 17 consecutive plays – all runs by junior running back Marcus Harris (25 carries for 123 yards on the night) and junior quarterback Kyle Gouveia (13-74) on a marathon drive that ate up more than eight minutes and put the Bulldogs on the path to a 28-7 victory.

The win set up an intriguing Northern Region Division 5 semifinal at Stone Bridge Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. as the Bulldogs will host Madison, a 31-10 winner over Edison Friday.

The Warhawks (7-4) are the only team to defeat the Bulldogs this season, a 28-14 win in Ashburn, making them the first Liberty District squad to ever beat Stone Bridge since the school opened a decade ago.

In that loss, Stone Bridge was sporting a spread offense more than half the night and rushed for just 58 total yards while putting the ball in the air 19 times. Since that game, Stone Bridge has returned to basics and stuck on the ground with its patented single-wing attack.

“We are finally just running the offense that we have run for 10 years,” Stone Bridge coach Mickey Thompson said. “We are not flashy.”

Indeed, there wasn’t much flash to Stone Bridge’s game plan Friday.

South Lakes tackled much better than the previous week when Harris busted loose for several long runs and tallied four touchdowns. The Bulldog offensive line, however, got enough push to pick up a constant five or six yards a rush with Harris and Gouveia combining for 38 carries.

A Stone Bridge fumble early in the second quarter and a couple of nice runs by South Lakes' Ja’Juan Jones and Darius Smith tied the game at 7-7 with 11:38 to go before the half. But the Bulldogs came right back, and now with South Lakes crowding the line of scrimmage to stop the run, the passing option was open.

Stone Bridge’s other quarterback, junior Brian Rody, still recovering from an injury in the Madison loss, was able to hit senior Michael Kajut on a crossing pattern that picked up 41 yards before the Seahawks could haul Kajut down at the South Lakes' 11-yard line. Three plays later, Rody found senior Taylor Lambke in the end zone to put Stone Bridge ahead, 14-7.

Penalties and a sack prevented Stone Bridge from adding to its lead late in the first half and so it was just a 14-7 advantage at the break.

“I was really concerned at halftime,” Thompson said.

Even though South Lakes received the ball first to open the second half, Stone Bridge’s defense had the Seahawk offense, especially its passing game to junior receiver Sean Price, bottled up.

While Price had hauled in eight balls the previous week for 127 of South Lakes’ 181 yards via the air, he managed only two catches for 20 yards Friday under a constant double team watch.

Stone Bridge’s 6-foot-7 junior defensive lineman Rob Burns stepped up big with several sacks and tackles for losses in the second half. The pressure that Burns and his teammates brought on senior quarterback Shawn Rana was a major reason the Seahawks couldn’t complete passes.

“It is the greatest feeling ever when you sack the quarterback,” Burns said. “South Lakes prepared well, they did block differently tonight, but we made adjustments at halftime.”

After South Lakes went three-and-out to start the third quarter, Stone Bridge moved the ball 64 yards to go ahead 21-7, with Gouveia picking up six yards on fourth-and-six from the Seahawk 32 to keep the drive alive. Harris scored for the second time on the night, from seven yards out.

Gouveia added a three-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to close out the scoring.

Stone Bridge 28, South Lakes 7

First Quarter
SB - Harris 2 run (Shaban kick) 3:40 (drive: 17 plays, 84 yards, 8:20)

Second Quarter
SL - Jones 15 run (Belt kick) 11:38 (drive: 3 plays, 55 yards, 0:41)
SB - Lambke 8 pass from Rody (Shaban kick) 8:30 (drive: 7 plays, 65 yards, 3:08)

Third Quarter
SB - Harris 7 run (Shaban kick) 6:23 (drive: 8 plays, 64 yards, 3:33)
SB - Gouveia 3 run (Shaban kick) 0:28 (drive: 5 plays, 25 yards, 2:32)

South Lakes: Jones 9-67, Smith 10-46, Sanford 1-2, Khan 1-(-5), Rana 4-(-8). Total 25-102.
Stone Bridge: Harris 25-123, Gouveia 13-74, Rody 4-23, Burns 3-17, Thomas 3-13, Forbes 1-7, Rankin-Bell 2-5, Rositano 2-2. Total 53-263.

South Lakes: Rana 2-11-0 20.
Stone Bridge: Rody 4-6-0 82.

South Lakes: Price 2-20.
Stone Bridge: Lambke 3-41, Kajut 1-41.

The Loudoun Times Mirror
9 E. Market Street, Leesburg, VA 20176


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