Leesburg, Va. — Two weeks removed from a loss to crosstown rival Heritage on September 17, the Tuscarora High School football team had redemption on its mind. When the Huskies travelled down King Street for another rivalry matchup against Loudoun County High School, they knew what they needed to do to take care of business, and it started in the backfield with the area’s most productive running back, senior Bryce Duke.
“It’s a rivalry game. We were excited and hungry to get back out,” Tuscarora head coach Brandon Wheelbarger said. “It was good playing Briar Woods last week, but that Heritage game was still on our minds.”
Behind a formidable offensive line, Duke rushed for 280+ yards and a touchdown and caught another touchdown to go with his 40+ receiving yards as the Huskies fended off the Captains, 21-12, on October 1 in Leesburg.
“Bryce is a fantastic football player in his own right,” Wheelbarger said. “Then you add in the fact that this is probably one of the best offensive lines we’ve had in school history. Then you had in the fact that we have other kids who are going to make plays if you continue to put 8-9 in the box; that right now is what a lot of people are trying to do to stop us, and I get it, it’s a good plan. I’m proud of our kids who have continued to step up to take some of that pressure off of Bryce.”
With or without the pressure, Duke has dominated his opponents this season, rushing for well over 1200 yards through six games while adding more than 20 touchdowns.
But for the Huskies, holding off the Captains took more than the Duke Show.
Defensively, Tuscarora held the high-scoring Loudoun County offense—which came in averaging nearly 50 points per game—to just 12 points.
“Loudoun County has one of the better receiving corps in the state. It was certainly something we had to stress a lot this week to prepare for multiple guys,” Wheelbarger said. “Obviously, [Jimmy] Kibble is fantastic, but [Brendan] Boyers can make some plays, and they got [Jason] Murray in the backfield who runs extremely hard as well. That makes game planning very difficult.”
Trailing 7-0 late in the first half, Loudoun County senior quarterback Jimmy Daughtrey threw a pass towards the endzone and senior receiver Jimmy Kibble made a diving, highlight-reel catch in the endzone to close the Huskies’ lead to just one. On the ensuing extra point attempt, the Tuscarora special teams stepped up, blocking Kibble’s PAT attempt to take a 7-6 lead into the half.
After a solid defensive effort on the opening drive of the second half, the Huskies once again turned to Duke, who broke free and outran Kibble down the field for a 91-yard touchdown run to extend the Tuscarora lead to 14-6.
Four minutes later, Daughtrey scampered into the endzone on a 3-yard touchdown run, and in an effort to completely erase the Tuscarora lead, the Captains elected to go for 2, but Daughtrey’s pass was intercepted as the Huskies’ defense once again held strong.
Down the stretch, the Huskies leaned on their offensive line to allow Duke as well as Tuscarora senior quarterback Sonny Mannino—who went 12-for-17 for 142 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown—to dominate time of possession and eventually hold off the Captains.
Tuscarora (2-1, 5-1) will look to continue its winning ways when the Huskies travel to Loudoun Valley (1-3, 2-4) on October 8. Loudoun County (2-1, 4-1) will look to get back on track when they travel to Dominion (1-4, 1-5) on the same night.
“We know Loudoun Valley is going to play hard and physical, so we can’t take a break,” Wheelbarger said. “It has to be full speed ahead knowing that those dudes are going to be in for another fist fight.”
|1Q||5:40||Tuscarora||Sonny Mannino to Bryce Duke 25-yard TD pass (Wilmer Salmeron PAT)||7-0|
|2Q||1:45||Loudoun County||Jimmy Daughtrey to Jimmy Kibble 25-yard TD pass (PAT blocked)||7-6|
|3Q||8:19||Tuscarora||Bryce Duke 91-yard TD run (Wilmer Salmeron PAT)||14-6|
|3Q||4:36||Loudoun County||Jimmy Daughtrey 3-yard TD run (2pt failed)||14-12|
|4Q||9:34||Tuscarora||Sonny Mannino 20-yard TD run (Wilmer Salmeron PAT)||21-12|