By Joe Skinner
Social Media Editor
Leesburg (December 5, 2015) — LoCo’s first dose of December football was a rather large one as a modern powerhouse in the Tuscarora High School Huskies (13-1) met historical powerhouse in the Stone Bridge High School Bulldogs (10-4) for a chance to play in Charlottesville for the VHSL 5A state title. The Huskies never led in the VHSL 5A North championship, as it was all Bulldogs from start to finish in a decisive win, 54-41.
With a kickoff temperature of a chilly 37 degrees, the Bulldogs decided to warm up the Dog Pound student section by driving down the field and scoring on the second drive when senior quarterback Joe Thompson found senior tight end Brett Smedley for a 5-yard touchdown pass.
“If we could throw the ball out of the single-wing, then hit them with play actiont would really open up the run,” Thompson said. “This unit from the beginning of the year to now is completely different, everyone is so much closer and it’s a great feeling to win it with all of them.”
Highly-praised Tuscarora senior quarterback Daniel Smith drove his offense right back down the field to tie up the game as Smith punched in the 1-yard touchdown rush, but Stone Bridge responded with an 11-yard keeper by Thompson. The quarter ended up as a 7-point Bulldog advantage, and it would stay in the Bulldogs’ favor for the rest of the game.
The Stone Bridge defense began to shine as the game went along, forcing Smith into two interceptions and one lost fumble that gave the Bulldogs prime field position in critical moments of the game.
“The drive that ate up almost all of the third quarter, and I understand they scored, but the fact that we could come back and score was big, that felt like the game,” Stone Bridge head coach Mickey Thompson said.
Going into the second quarter, Stone Bridge senior running back Chase Ridley scored on an 8-yard touchdown run-his first of two in the game, to put the Bulldogs up 21-7 on the undefeated Huskies with 9:35 to go in the first half. Smith- who played through a toe strain which limited him in practice all week-and his Huskies drove back down the field and connected with junior wide receiver Gunnar Biebighauser for Smith’s second of six total touchdowns in the game.
These two offenses continued to slug it out as Thompson scored a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:37 to go in the second quarter, the third of his own six total touchdowns. A second touchdown by Ridley really put the Huskies on the ropes, down 35-14.
The Huskies got a spark as they headed into the locker room as senior wide receiver Nic Speroni hauled in a 43-yard touchdown pass in double coverage to end the first half only down 35-21 with momentum and the ball coming back after halftime.
“In the single wing we are playing very well, the spread could be better, but we almost went entirely with the single wing because everything was going, and we didn’t have much problem moving the ball,” head coach Mickey Thompson said.
Thompson provided the only points of the third quarter as he scored on an 18-yard run with twelve seconds left in the quarter-a quarter in which Tuscarora controlled the ball for the majority but didn’t come out with any points. This touchdown allowed Stone Bridge to double up the undefeated Huskies on their home turf and shut out the home crowd with a 42-21 lead going into the final twelve minutes.
“The turnovers hurt us, getting a touchdown called back on a penalty hurt us,” Tuscarora head coach Michael Bennett said. “It was a great season. You have to look at the whole season and what a great group this team is.”
As long as the clock was running, the Bulldogs were winning the fourth quarter holding a 21-point lead going into the final twelve minutes. Smith scored on a 38-yard touchdown run, then Thompson responded with a touchdown pass of his own to senior fullback Lawton Riggs. Smith found Speroni for the second time, before Thompson once again answered, finding Smedley for a second time.
Touchdown drive after touchdown drive finally ended while Stone Bridge was leading 54-35 with 3:34 to go in the game. Smith ended a stellar night-and career-with his sixth total touchdown, this one a 1-yard rush.
“The mindset [for the state championship game]needs to be confidence. In my opinion, we can beat anybody,” Joe Thompson said. “If we play to our potential, we can beat anybody in the state.”
Stone Bridge goes on to face Highland Springs High School — who won the VHSL 5A South championship — on Saturday, December 12 at Scott Stadium at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Kickoff is set for 12:07 p.m.
1Q 4:52 SB Joe Thompson to Brett Smedley 5-yard TD pass (Alcorn PAT)
1Q 2:23 T Daniel Smith 1-yard TD run (Elmellouki PAT)
1Q 1:36 SB Joe Thompson 11-yard TD run (Alcorn PAT)
2Q 9:35 SB Chase Ridley 8-yard TD run (Alcorn PAT)
2Q 3:58 T Daniel Smith to Gunnar Biebighauser28-yard TD pass (Elmellouki PAT)
2Q 2:37 SB Joe Thompson 1-yard TD run (Alcorn PAT)
2Q 0:50 SB Chase Ridley 5-yard TD run (Alcorn PAT)
2Q 0:00 T Daniel Smith to Nic Speroni 43-yard TD pass (Elmellouki PAT)
3Q 0:12 SB Joe Thompson 18-yard TD run (Alcorn PAT)
4Q 11:23 T Daniel Smith 38-yard TD run (Elmellouki PAT)
4Q 8:46 SB Joe Thompson to Lawton Riggs 21-yard TD pass (PAT failed)
4Q 8:13 T Daniel Smith to Nic Speroni 19-yard TD pass (Elmellouki PAT)
4Q 3:34 SB Joe Thompson to Brett Smedley 11-yard TD pass (2pt failed)
4Q 1:06 T Daniel Smith 1-yard TD run (2pt failed)