Leesburg, Va. — Senior Night is always a joyous occasion for student-athletes and their families. A culmination of four years of hard work and a chance to be honored prior to the last home game of the regular season. The Loudoun County High School football team already knew they had qualified for the postseason, so the seniors knew this would not be their final game.
However, the Captains’ Senior Night just so happened to be against crosstown Heritage, so that upped the ante even more. And on a very cold evening, Loudoun County celebrated its seniors with a 21-7 victory over the Pride on November 5 in Leesburg.
“I told them at the beginning of the week I’ve got a love-hate relationship with Senior Night,” Loudoun County head coach Matt Reidenbaugh said. “The biggest compliment I can give them is that it doesn’t end tonight, because they’ve earned the right to play for as many weeks as possible here over November. As far as tonight goes, we played a great team and that was the focus; a neighborhood game with Heritage, who is having a great year. It means a lot anytime you can beat a quality opponent.”
Loudoun County got off to a fast start as they took the game’s opening possession for a touchdown when senior quarterback Jimmy Daughtrey ran it in from 7 yards out. The PAT was muffed, so the Captains had a 6-0 lead.
“Jimmy Daughtrey is the center of our team,” senior receiver Brendan Boyers said. “He always shows up in the spotlight and in crunch time. He’s just a great player, a great person to have around, and a great team leader.”
With just over two minutes to play in the first half, the Captains turned the ball over on downs, and the Pride were able to capitalize when senior quarterback Braden Smith found senior receiver Kyle Alt for a 12-yard touchdown with 0:09 left on the clock to take a 7-6 lead into the half.
“We knew one of the biggest challenges would be containing the guys they have on the outside. They’ve got a couple really good receivers in DeShawn Allen and Emmanuel Darko. Braden Smith can run around a little bit and sling it, so we knew we’d have our hands full there,” Reidenbaugh said. “I think everything we were doing was right, but they just made a couple plays before half, so we tweaked a couple things and settled down at the half. Our front and our linebackers played phenomenal which made it a little bit easier in the second half on the back end.”
Heritage received the second half kickoff, but shortly after turned it over to the Captains as Daughtrey intercepted Smith on the Heritage sideline. That interception would lead to a Daughtrey 1-yard scamper for another touchdown—his 15th rushing touchdown and 29th total touchdown of the season—to put Loudoun County up 13-7.
Jimmy Daughtrey is the center of our team. He always shows up in the spotlight and in crunch time. He’s just a great player, a great person to have around, and a great team leader.
—Loudoun County senior receiver Brendan Boyers
“He’s the toughest kid on the field,” Reidenbaugh said. “He’s a playmaker, and he’s not your prototypical quarterback. He’s a different type of kid. I would say he’s not a quarterback—he’s a football player—but he’s extremely coachable. He’s come a long way playing the position this year. As far as he goes on the field, I just trust him.”
The Loudoun County defense held the Pride’s offense in check all evening. Heritage turned the ball over on downs with 4:44 left in the fourth quarter but would get the ball back at their own 12-yard line with 2:12 left to play, trailing 13-7. The Captains’ pass rush, however, would force a bad throw and senior athlete Jimmy Kibble was able to pick it off and essentially seal the game.
“Our defense really stepped up,” Daughtrey said. “I think our line was a big influence in all of that, making Braden have to scramble out of the pocket and have to make some pretty good plays. Some of them we were fortunate enough to pick off and get our hands on and put them in tough spots.”
Loudoun County junior running back Jason Murray—who rushed for 97 yards on 16 carries—would put the icing on the cake with a 3-yard touchdown run with two minutes left in the game to make it 21-7.
Coming into the game, both the Captains (5-2, 8-2) and the Pride (5-2, 8-2) knew they had qualified for the VHSL Region 4C tournament. Despite the loss, Dulles District No. 2 Heritage will host Northwestern District No. 3 James Wood in Leesburg on November 12 at 7 p.m., while Dulles District No. 3 Loudoun County will travel to Northwestern District No. 2 Handley on November 13 at 1 p.m.
“We get to go to practice,” Daughtrey said. “Some teams have to turn in their equipment after tonight, but we’re fortunate just to be able to go back to practice and work on some of the mistakes we’ve made and just try to get better as a team.”
|1Q||7:39||Loudoun County||Jimmy Daughtrey 7-yard TD run (PAT muffed)||6-0|
|2Q||0:09||Heritage||Braden Smith to Kyle Alt 12-yard TD pass (Jackson Karam PAT)||6-7|
|3Q||5:02||Loudoun County||Jimmy Daughtrey 1-yard TD run (Jonathan Haslet PAT)||13-7|
|4Q||1:50||Loudoun County||Jason Murray 3-yard TD run (2PT conversion pass from Daughtrey to Messer good)||21-7|