By Michael Pittinger
LoCoSports Staff Writer
Sterling (September 17, 2016) – In football, teams usually run the ball to control the tempo and set up the passing game: well, the passing game took a back seat in this game. Park View High School and Rock Ridge High School both ran wild on the defenses combining for a total 501 yards on the ground. It was only fitting that the team to win this game would need to be a little better on the ground than their opponent. The Patriots did just that by running for five scores to the Phoenix’s one in a 42-28 victory.
“I really am proud of my guys and the way they worked tonight,” Park View head coach Mick Mullins said. “That was a heck of a ball game to watch, I bet.”
Both teams’ defenses were the story early in the game thanks to the hard hitting defenses and lack of yards gained by either team. Late in the first quarter though that changed when Park View started to drive down the field.
Rock Ridge looked to have stopped the Patriots on 4th-and-long except the Phoenix got called for roughing the passer which extended the drive.
Park View went on to score a touchdown on the ground later in the drive, when the center snapped the ball directly to fullback Kevin Lopez for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Patriots a 7-0.
“It was really fun to watch the kids have some success,” Mullins said. “It was good to see the heart, the pride, the grind and being tough all come together and get a win like this.”
The Phoenix would find the end zone late in the first half when quarterback Dawson McGovern threw a jump ball to his 6-foot-3 tight end Ben Wright for an 8-yard touchdown pass to get them within seven points going into the half, Park View leading 14-7.
The scoring started early in the second half when Patriots linebacker Caleb Donofrio picked off McGovern’s pass and returned it 45 yards to give Park View a 14-point lead early in the third quarter.
“It felt great. I didn’t believe it when the ball hit my hands and I caught it,” Donofrio said. “Then I just kept going; it just didn’t feel real running full speed down the field. It felt great to get that touchdown and expand the lead in the second half.”
Donofrio wasn’t the only one happy. In fact, his coach may have been even more excited than he was.
“That was a heck of a play by Caleb to pick that off and score for us,” Mullins said. “He is one of our best players. If you want to win games your best players have to play well.”
Rock Ridge, however, wouldn’t let that pick-6 hurt their confidence. That interception may have actually given the Phoenix the momentum as they would score on their next three drives, when McGovern threw two more touchdown passes and Eric Vivian – their workhorse in the backfield – finally found the end zone to go with his 231 rushing yards on the ground to tie the game at 28 by the end of the third quarter.
“The game was back and forth between two teams that were working very hard,” Mullins said.
The Patriots would then lean on their work house in the back field Niko Hopkins in the fourth quarter.
“We told Niko in the middle of the third quarter that we were going to ride him,” Mullins said. “We tried to stay away from giving him all of his carries in the first half like we’ve been doing. Niko put us on his back and dragged people down the field with him.”
Hopkins scored twice in the fourth quarter. His second score was his best run of the night. Hopkins took the hand off and powered his way through the line and then carried about eight Rock Ridge defenders ten yards down the field until he broke away and scored to put Park View up 14 with under a minute to go in the game. Hopkins finished the game with 177 yards on the ground and three scores.
“It felt great to run all over the defense. I had our big O-line right in front of me and they were just creating holes.” Hopkins said. “It felt good to run through them all night long. That last run was crazy; I was just pushing and making sure the ball was tight and just trying to get yards for the books”
The Phoenix travel to Leesburg on September 23 to take on the Pride of Heritage High School.
The Patriots will travel to Aldie to play a rare Thursday night game – on September 22 – against the Knights of John Champe High School.
“It was a total team effort, [so]they’ll enjoy the weekend,” Mullins said. “Then we will get ready for a really tough game against a really experienced team over at John Champe on Thursday night.”
2Q 10:40 PV Kevin Lopez 3-yard TD run (Lampe PAT)
2Q 3:40 PV Kevin Lopez 9-yard TD run (Lampe PAT)
2Q 1:08 RR Dawson McGovern to Ben Wright 8-yard TD pass (Davis PAT)
3Q 10:40 PV Caleb Donofrio 45-yard interception return TD (Lampe PAT)
3Q 7:53 RR Dawson McGovern to Will Camire 13-yard TD pass (Davis PAT)
3Q 6:54 PV Niko Hopkins 3-yard TD run (Lampe PAT)
3Q 3:14 RR Eric Vivian 15-yard TD run (Davis PAT)
3Q 1:07 RR Dawson McGovern to Will Camire 18-yard TD pass (Davis PAT)
4Q 2:09 PV Niko Hopkins 1-yard TD run (2-point good)
4Q 0:59 PV Niko Hopkins 25-yard TD run (PAT failed)