By Joe Skinner
LoCoSports Social Media Editor
Aldie (November 21, 2015) — It’s the time of the year when the nights get a little longer, the temperature gets a little colder, the hits sting a little more and the pressure is all too real. When the John Champe High School Knights (11-0) met the George Washington High School Eagles (10-2) in Aldie on Friday night, both teams left it all on the field. The Knights never trailed, but it was close at times, as senior kicker Will Nichols split the uprights to push the hometown team ahead, 16-13 — a score by which they would win their VHSL 4A West region quarterfinal.
The Knights pulled out some plays from the back of the playbook to open the game, deciding on an onside kick on the opening kickoff, which they recovered. According to John Champe head coach Jason Dawson, they just kicked it to where the Eagles weren’t covering, and it wasn’t much of a decision.
“[The kick] wasn’t gutsy, they gave it to us on film,” Dawson said. “It’s gutsy if they line up there, but if they constantly give it to you on film it’s not. When you kick the ball off, you kick it where they’re not.”
After being stopped on third down on the Knights’ first drive, senior quarterback Zach Burdick lined up as the punter, when he faked the punt and passed to a teammate for the first down. Once near the Eagle 10-yard line, Burdick hurdled two defenders into the pylon to get the Knights seven points about two minutes into the game.
“Going through this week, it’s just been the same as always, competing,” sophomore wide receiver Carl Garmon said. “We can’t take anything for granted and coach says that we always have to compete, never win, just compete because wins will come.”
The 7-0 Knight-lead held until 7:02 left in the second quarter when the Eagles got on the board with a 10-yard rushing touchdown from senior running back CJ Graves — his first of two on the night.
The tied score was taken into the locker room, and then with 2:51 left in the third quarter Burdick and Garmon connected on a 65-yard pass to give the lead back to the Knights.
However, Graves wasn’t going to have any of it, as he scampered 75 yards for a touchdown with 8:57 left in the game to tie it up at 13 after failed PAT by both teams.
“Our kids love the moment. Our kids aren’t upset about being tied up 13-13,” Dawson said. “We just won again, either in the last minute in the fourth quarter or in an overtime game against a playoff football team.”
When the Eagles were forced to punt back to the Knights with under six minutes to go in the game, Burdick did what he’s been doing all season. He led his team down the field with his legs and his arm, as well as directing the entire offense.
The Knights ended up taking a time out with 35 seconds left in the game to set up Nichols with the go-ahead field goal attempt from 20 yards — which he nailed.
The Eagles were given the ball back on their own side of the field, and desperate heaves downfield couldn’t save the game for the Eagles as the Knights escaped with the school’s second home playoff win.
1Q 9:58 JC Zach Burdick 12-yard TD run (Nichols PAT)
2Q 7:02 GW CJ Graves 10-yard TD run (Harris PAT)
3Q 2:51 JC Zach Burdick to Carl Garmon 65-yard TD pass (PAT failed)
4Q 8:57 CJ Graves 75-yard TD run (PAT failed)
4Q 0:36 JC Will Nichols 20-yard FG