By Spencer DuPuis
LoCoSports Staff Writer
Leesburg (November 9, 2015) — Every time you get to see a crosstown rivalry like this, you know you are in store for a game to remember. On Friday, November 6, Loudoun County upset Heritage, 43-41, in what was a nail-biting back-and-forth classic between the 14-year-long rivals.
In the first quarter, Pride (6-4) senior running back Mitch Westbrook would take it in from five yards out, after carrying the ball for all but one play on the drive to put Heritage on the board first.
“We thought matchup wise, we had had a good one on the line,” Heritage head coach Reed Prosser said. “I thought our kids played pretty well upfront, we ran the ball well, Mitch had a great night, [but]sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.”
The Raiders (3-7) would answer with a touchdown of their own just over a minute later when sophomore quarterback Cameron Corbett found senior receiver Kah Sosthene for a 29-yard score.
“They like to bring pressure, and we did a lot of max protection, something we haven’t done all year, so they hadn’t seen that,” Loudoun County interim head coach Steve Williams said. “We just thought we had better matchups on the outside, then they tried to make some adjustments, it was like a chess match: their pass defense was making an adjustment, we’d adjust to it, they’d switch to something else. We were always just trying to stay one step ahead of them. A lot of it just goes to our kids, [they]stepped up to play.”
With just over two minutes left in the first half, Corbett would find senior receiver Matt Suder for a 9-yard touchdown.
What came next would end up being the difference in the game.
Raiders interim head coach — and former Pride head coach — Steve Williams called a fake field goal based on how Heritage had covered Loudoun County’s first two PATs.
“We had preached the importance of special teams play this week,” Williams said. “The 2-point conversion on the fake PAT was really just a target of opportunity. I thought we would have a numbers advantage if we went for the fake. At that moment, we were just trying to steal an extra point where we thought we could. I was thinking that if we hit it, not only could we cut their lead to six, but we might be able to balance the pressure in their rush for when we scored later.”
In the third quarter, the Pride took its first drive 68 yards for a touchdown when Westbrook ran it in from 20 yards out to put Heritage up 35-22.
Westbrook once again had a big night against Loudoun County this season with 36 carries for 215 yards and four touchdowns; last season, he carried it 28 times for 201 yards and a touchdown in a, 35-32, Heritage win.
“I think it’s our [offensive line that gives us the edge in the running game]. [Loudoun] County is a great team. Their defense is always good,” Westbrook said. “I think our line always loves to play. We are always hyped to play them and always ready. The mentality that we get from playing them is always good; that’s what I feed off of.”
Loudoun County would score three more touchdowns in the game including a 49-yard run from sophomore running back Dominick Baah after senior defensive back Ryan Horner intercepted Heritage junior quarterback Alex Carlin with about two minutes left in the game.
“[We had a] different group of kids [playing defense]in the first half. I mean the only stop we got in the first half was right at the end when they were driving. In the second half, the kids came out and made a few adjustments,” Williams said. “The big thing was forcing the two turnovers and stopping their drive. For a while, we were trying to play catch up, catch up and catch up, and they came through with the two big stops. I can’t tell you how proud I am of the way the kids on defense stepped their game up to a new level in the second half.”
The Pride had one more opportunity to comeback with under a minute left in the game and they drove down the field. With seven ticks left on the clock Carlin found sophomore receiver Tyrique Moss for a 5-yard touchdown.
Heritage went for two to try and tie the game and force overtime, but the pass catcher was taken down 1-yard shy of the pylon.
“The tables were turned a little bit this year and maybe that’s just how this rivalry is going to go the next couple years,” Prosser said. “But our kids played hard, they played well, we just need to make more plays. Credit to Loudoun County: they made plays and deserved the victory tonight”
Even with the loss, the Pride made the playoff cut as No. 12 Heritage will head to Purcellville on November 13 to play No. 5 Woodgrove in the first round of the VHSL 4A West region playoffs.
1Q 6:59 H Mitch Westbrook 5-yard TD run (Villalon PAT)
1Q 5:48 LC Cameron Corbett to Sosthene Kah 29-yard TD pass (Bailoul PAT)
2Q 11:57 H Mitch Westbrook 2-yard TD run (Villalon PAT)
2Q 11:39 LC Cameron Corbett to Sosthene Kah 28-yard TD pass (Bailoul PAT)
2Q 9:32 H Mitch Westbrook 9-yard TD run (Villalon PAT)
2Q 5:37 H Luke Schaub 13-yard TD run (Villalon PAT)
2Q 2:06 LC Cameron Corbett to Matt Suder 9-yard TD pass (2pt good)
3Q 8:46 H Mitch Westbrook 20-yard TD run (Villalon PAT)
3Q 5:46 LC Cameron Corbett to Sosthene Kah 21-yard TD pass (Bailoul PAT)
3Q 0:45 LC Dominick Baah 2-yard TD run (Bailoul PAT)
4Q 1:07 LC Dominick Baah 49-yard TD run (Bailoul PAT)
4Q 0:07 H Alex Carlin to Tyrique Moss 5-yard TD Pass (2pt failed)