Purcellville, Va. – Five minutes after scoring the go-ahead touchdown, the Heritage High School football team faced their biggest test of the game with just four minutes to go in the fourth quarter in a Dulles District clash with Loudoun Valley High School on September 28 in Purcellville.
A big run down the sideline by Loudoun Valley senior running back John Rock Swartz gave the Vikings a first-and-goal situation from the three yard line, needing a touchdown and extra point to even things out.
An illegal substitution on first down gave the Pride a little breathing room, but the Vikings still had four plays to go eight yards.
Then on fourth-and-goal from the 9, Heritage senior linebacker Beau Hogan made the statement play of the night, when he shot through the gap and sacked Loudoun Valley senior quarterback Derek Goings to end the Vikings’ threat.
“We knew we had to keep the intensity up,” Hogan said. “We thought the screen was coming, but also needed to be ready for the run because they had just beat us a few plays before with the run.”
Heritage and Loudoun Valley traded late possessions to no avail, as the Pride completed their comeback, knocking off the Vikings, 20-13.
“That stand was enormous. Our kids being able to make that stop was huge,” Heritage head coach Reed Prosser said. “That’s why I’m so proud of our kids and our coaching staff. We’ve talked about money downs all year. Every time we had a money down before tonight, we didn’t win them. I thought tonight was a great example of winning on a money down.”
That money down was only possible because the Pride defense held Loudoun Valley scoreless in the second half after Heritage took a 13-7 deficit into halftime.
“In the locker room at halftime, our guys were just getting each other motivated,” Heritage sophomore quarterback Brett Johnson said. “They beat us in the first half, but we knew the second half was ours. Our defense really stepped up.”
The Heritage defense stepped up big midway through the third quarter, when they forced a fumble. Pride junior linebacker Sam Ray scooped it up and returned it down to the Vikings’ 1 yard line. From there, Johnson went on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to even the score out at 13-13.
“That turnover was the turning point in the game,” Heritage junior defensive back Chris Frank said. “We needed that to kickstart our team and get our confidence back up.”
In a tie game, early in the fourth quarter, Johnson dropped back and launched a 40-yard pass to junior receiver Gio Wooten in double coverage. Wooten, however, couldn’t corral the pass.
“Gio had to get off some double coverage and some different looks, but we liked the matchup, we liked our athlete,” Prosser said. “We believe in our kids, so we’re going to keep taking shots with them.”
Two plays later – and with tremendous confidence in his #1 target – Johnson went back to Wooten, who beat double coverage once again, caught the pass and finished the 59-yard pitch-and-catch with a touchdown.
“When I saw him make that catch, it was just a sigh of relief,” Johnson said. “I talked to all of my defensive guys and told them to get the ball back for us. I just had to remain poised, and we came away with the win.”
With four games to play, Heritage (4-2) currently sits on the VHSL Region 4C playoff bubble and will look to move to 5-2 when they travel to Sterling to take on Dulles District foe Park View High School on October 6.
Loudoun Valley (1-4) will need to battle its way back into playoff contention and a win over Loudoun County High School on October 6 in Purcellville would get the Vikings started on the right track.
“I’m super proud of our kids,” Prosser said. “I think this was the first time we really showed some cohesion and came together as a team and fought as a group.”
2Q 11:02 H Brett Johnson to Tyrique Moss 27-yard TD pass (Henriquez PAT)
2Q 4:21 LV John Rock Swartz 1-yard TD run (Van Zandt PAT)
2Q 1:23 LV Derek Goings to Sam Allen 43-yard TD pass (PAT failed)
3Q 6:08 H Brett Johnson 1-yard TD run (PAT failed)
4Q 8:54 H Brett Johnson to Gio Wooten 59-yard TD pass (Henriquez PAT)