Ashburn, Va. — Just over six months ago, the Rock Ridge High School football team walked off the field following a 29-28 heartbreaking loss to Park View on Homecoming night. In the waning seconds of the fourth quarter, the Patriots defense broke through the Phoenix offensive line and blocked a field goal to seal the victory.
However, this time around, Rock Ridge would not give Park View that same opportunity as the Phoenix jumped out to an early lead and continued to run away, shutting out the Patriots, 35-0, to celebrate Homecoming 2021 on October 8 in Ashburn.
“We have guys that have been pillars of our team through the rebuilding process, so this is really, really good for those guys to get that revenge,” Rock Ridge head coach George Masten said. “It’s huge for them to see the work they’ve put in pay off. We’re finally taken a step in the right direction for our program.”
Less than two minutes into the game, Rock Ridge junior running back Malachi Younger bulldozed his way into the endzone on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Phoenix the early lead.
Then, more than 22 minutes later, Younger once again found the goal line as the first half clock expired, extending the Rock Ridge lead to 14-0 at the half.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, the Phoenix forced a Park View fumble, setting up another scoring drive, capped off by a 4-yard Younger touchdown run.
Late in the fourth quarter, Younger lined up at full back and carried in his fourth rushing touchdown, ending his 4-touchdown, 100+-yard rushing night.
“He’s doing exactly what we’re asking him to do,” Masten said. “We’ve found a formula with him and Tyler Valdov, rotating them like a 1-2 punch, which allows Malachi to catch his breath, so he can be more effective when he’s in there.”
With a 28-0 lead and just four minutes to play, the Phoenix put the nail in the coffin when sophomore defensive back Austin Fisher intercepted a Park View pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown.
“We haven’t been great on defense, but we finally turned the corner there,” Masten said. “We challenged some younger guys at practice this week, and they took some spots away from older guys; they showed us how badly they want to play.”
Rock Ridge (1-3, 1-5)—who entered the game with a -43 point per game differential—earned their first victory since Week 3 of their spring 2021 season, avenged last season’s Homecoming loss to Park View (0-3, 1-5), and felt like they hit the turning point they were looking for to get their program back on track.
“We’ve been plagued by injuries, but we finally had an off week where we could get everyone healthy,” Masten said. “All the credit has to go to our guys. They’ve been beaten down all season, but they’ve never quit.”
|1Q||10:04||Rock Ridge||Malachi Younger 1-yard TD run (Luca Foscarini PAT)||7-0|
|2Q||0:00||Rock Ridge||Malachi Younger 1-yard TD run (Luca Foscarini PAT)||14-0|
|3Q||8:41||Rock Ridge||Malachi Younger 4-yard TD run (Luca Foscarini PAT)||21-0|
|4Q||4:24||Rock Ridge||Malachi Younger 3-yard TD run (Luca Foscarini PAT)||28-0|
|4Q||3:54||Rock Ridge||Austin Fisher 26-yard interception return TD (Luca Foscarini PAT)||35-0|