By Joe Skinner
LoCoSports Social Media Editor
Leesburg (October 9, 2016) – This week’s LoCoSports Game of the Week was in Leesburg as the Tuscarora High School Huskies (4-3) hosted the second ranked team in the VHSL 5A North standings the Potomac Falls High School Panthers (5-1). A defensive battle in the first half turned into a deadlocked second half, with neither team able to gain an edge in regulation. In the end, the Huskies prevailed in front of a home crowd in their Pediatric Cancer Awareness Game against the Panthers, 24-17.
“The thing about this year is that everybody is pretty good, and you can’t look at records week to week,” Tuscarora head coach Michael Burnett said.
Forty-five seconds into the second quarter, Tuscarora sophomore quarterback Justin Allen pushed his way into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run to kick off the scoring.
“Our defense showed up, that was great, and got us the ball to give us chances, and that’s all you can ask for,” Allen said.
The Panthers wouldn’t let the Husky defense keep them off the board, as they put up a touchdown of their own with 6:01 left in the second quarter. Potomac Falls junior quarterback Hunter Lawall scrambled for the 11-yard touchdown run to even the game back up.
Both teams had more chances to score throughout the remainder of the second quarter, especially when Potomac Falls forced two turnovers on defense. Potomac Falls senior defensive back Matthew Macioce and junior linebacker Miles Lipscomb intercepted Allen on critical drives, but the Panthers’ offense couldn’t capitalize on the other side of the ball.
“The whole week in practice coach was telling us that we can win this game,” Allen said. “[We] took what was there and didn’t force anything, and just came out and got stops.”
Tuscarora senior kicker Yassine Elmellouki made a 39-yard field goal as the clock expired in the first half to give the Huskies a 10-7 lead over the Panthers.
In the second half, the Potomac Falls’ coaches pushed to take more chances on offense, and that’s what happened. The Panthers gave many targets to senior wide receiver Kaevon Chase in their first few possessions of the second half, but Husky junior defensive back Joe Morein made a big sack on third down to kill the drive.
“We are a very young football team, so for the first four weeks of the season we didn’t make those [big]plays that make a difference and get us over the hump,” Burnett said.
The tide shifted in the home team’s favor with 8:44 left in the game when Tuscarora junior defensive back Chris Broad picked up a Potomac Falls fumble and brought it back for a touchdown, making the score 17-7. It was at this point that the Tuscarora defense began to step up and make adjustments from their first half plays.
Just as the Husky defense was getting hot, the Panther offense began to claw their way back into the game with a 59-yard touchdown for junior running back Jad Raqi with seven minutes left in the game. Potomac Falls tacked on a field goal by senior kicker Alexander Nemer to tie the game back up again.
“We like to think that we have built some history and tradition here that we could build on, and that the kids could tap into that,” Burnett said. “[Tuscarora] has been a very difficult place for teams to come win.”
After a missed field goal by Nemer – with nine seconds left – the game went into overtime.
On the Huskies’ first play from scrimmage in the period, junior running back Jaylon Lundy scored a 10-yard touchdown, forcing the Panthers to put up seven points to extend the game.
After what seemed to be a six-play, all-out war between the two teams on Potomac Falls’ possession, the Huskies broke up a pass in the end zone on 4th-and-9 to seal the win.
“We got great fans, and our kids play harder [at Fortune Field],” Burnett said.
Tuscarora hosts the Edison High School Eagles on October 14, while Potomac Falls will host another Conference 14 foe, going up against the Briar Woods High School Falcons – a team fresh off of upsetting the 2015 VHSL 6A state champion Westfield High School Bulldogs.
2Q 11:15 T Justin Allen 1-yard TD run (Elmellouki PAT)
2Q 6:01 PF Hunter Lawall 11-yard TD run (Nemer PAT)
2Q 0:00 T Yassine Elmellouki 39-yard FG
4Q 8:44 T Chris Broad 6-yard fumble recovery TD (Elmellouki PAT)
4Q 6:22 PF Jad Raqi 59-yard TD run (Nemer PAT)
4Q 1:28 PF Alex Nemer 29-yard FG
OT 0:00 T Jaylon Lundy 10-yard TD run (Elmellouki PAT)