By Arnav Kumar
LoCoSports Staff Writer
Aldie (November 7, 2016) – On November 4, Loudoun County students were not only elated about the completion of the first quarter of school, but also excited about the rivalry week football match ups. One of the more fierce and intense battles in Loudoun County tends to be the Braddock Road Bell game between the Freedom High School Eagles and John Champe High School Knights.
Both teams brought out sizable crowds to the game at the Champe Stadium in Aldie, creating a great atmosphere for the game. However, the Eagles fans would be quieted for most of the game, as the Knights made many big defensive stops to fuel a 31-7 victory over the Eagles.
At the start of the game, Freedom succeeded in driving the football down to the red zone with an array of runs. The Eagles proceeded to go for the first down on 4th-and-5 , but the Knights stopped wide receiver Aidan Doherty inches before he could reach the first down, setting a defensive tone for the rest of the game.
On the offensive side, the Knights did not get going immediately; however, as the first quarter winded down, junior running back Carl Garmon III started to find some holes and capitalized on a 5-yard touchdown run.
Following the touchdown, Champe junior Brandon Burdick picked off Freedom quarterback Jack Fitzgerald and returned the ball all the way to the Freedom 1-yard line, setting up another Champe rushing touchdown. To make matters worse for Freedom, the Knights were able to convert 2-point tries after scoring, making the score 16-0 in favor of Champe.
Following the Champe touchdown, the Eagles were able to put together some nice drives; however, they were unable to finish drives in the red zone. Furthermore, before the end of the first half, Freedom junior running back Robert Mayo came down with an injury that would sideline him for the rest of the game.
Trying to get back into the game, the Eagles had a tough time moving the ball through the air without Mayo. Moreover, the Knights did a good job of putting constant pressure on Fitzgerald when he dropped back to pass.
On the flipside, the Knights were able to find a rhythm by putting the ball in the hands of fullback Mikey O’Connell. The senior was able to batter through the defense en route to two touchdowns that would extend the Champe lead.
However, the Eagles did not go down without a fight, as Freedom junior safety Jeremy Cofield picked off a pass from Champe junior quarterback Cameron Parson. Although the Eagles were not able to capitalize on the turnover, they eventually were able to score on a touchdown catch by junior Zyan Collins in the last minute.
All in all, the Knights clearly exerted their dominance over the Eagles; however, the Eagles did put up a better fight than last year, when they lost to Champe by the score of 46-7.
The Freedom Eagles finish their season at 4-6. Despite a losing record, the future is bright for the Eagles, as they return many key players next year, including Garrett Dunn-Ford, Cofield, Collins, Doherty, Fitzgerald and Mayo.
The No. 9 John Champe Knights will be on the road to take on No. 8 Charlottesville High School on November 11, in a 4A West region playoff game.