The Stone Bridge Bulldogs traveled to Fairfax City on Friday, 9 October 2009, to take on the Rebels of Fairfax High School, the newest members of the Liberty District. The Rebels, formerly part of the Concorde District (with Westfield, Robinson, Oakton, etc.) were playing Stone bridge in football for the first time, and they were treated to some old-fashioned, back to basics single wing offense by the Bulldogs.
As has been the case several times this season, the Stone Bridge offense took a while to get untracked. That was due in no small part to the determined play of the Fairfax Rebels, but as the game wore on, the Stone Bridge offense ramped up and Marcus Harris ran wild. Harris carried the ball 22 times for 205 yards and a TD. He now has 848 yards on 123 carries (6.9 yards per carry, 141 yards per game) and has rushed for 9 TDs.
There was only one score in the first quarter. The Bulldog offense was not yet untracked (2 possessions, 4 net yards), but the defense kept the Rebels offense in check and took advantage of a high snap over the Fairfax punter’s head. The ball rolled into the end zone after an unsuccessful attempt by the punter to bat the ball out of bounds. Ryan Lowdermilk jumped on the ball and, with 01:30 left in the 1st quarter, Stone Bridge led, 7-0.
On its ensuing possession, following an unsuccessful onside kick attempt by the Bulldogs, Fairfax put together a 12-play, 56-yard drive to knot the score at 7-7. Fairfax QB Jack Bechert connected with RB Stephen Pak for a 16-yard score. Stone Bridge then went on a long drive of its own, starting at its 25-yard line and moving the ball on the ground all the way to the Fairfax 5. The drive stalled, however, and a botched play on 4th down gave the Rebels the ball on their 8 with 3:03 left in the half.
The Rebels could not move the ball and punted back to Stone bridge. A 13-yard return by Spenser Rositano gave the Bulldogs excellent field position at the Fairfax 31, and this time there would be no stopping them. A 20-yard completion to Rositano by QB Kyle Gouveia (staring in place of the injured Brian Rody) took the ball to the Fairfax 11.
Two plays later, Gouveia ran the ball into the end zone from 14 yards out to put the Bulldogs up 14-7 with 45 seconds left in the half.
Fairfax kicked off to start the 2nd half, and the Bulldogs went to work immediately. They covered 76 yards on just 6 plays. This was a “Marcus” drive, with Harris accounting for all but 1 of the 76 yards, on 5 carries.
Abdul Shaban’s third PAT kick of the evening extended the Stone Bridge lead to 21-7.
Later in the 3rd period, the Rebels took to the air, on a 9-play, 53-yard drive that culminated in a 30-yard TD pass from QB Bechert to WR Alex Young. The ensuing conversion attempt failed, due in no small part to a strong Stone Bridge rush that forced the kicker to hurry his attempt and kick the ball wide left. With 01:28 left in the 3rd quarter, the Bulldogs’ lead had been cut to 21-13.
If there was any anxiety on the Stone Bridge sideline, it was not in evidence. Starting at their own 29-yard line, the Bulldogs calmly and methodically moved the ball down the field; even two holding penalties did not deter them from their march. Kyle Gouveia and Marcus Harris shared the rushing load, but 2nd and 16 from the Fairfax 21, the ball went to Adrian Thomas, who stepped through the chaos on the line of scrimmage and ran untouched into the end zone.
Stone Bridge now led, 28-13, with 09:37 left in the game, and it was obvious that Fairfax needed to score and score quickly in order to position itself for a comeback. The Rebels did score, but the drive took over 8 minutes. When QB Bechert threw his 3rd TD pass of the day, finding WR Young in the end zone, the Rebels were able to close the gap to 28-20, but only 01:30 remained in the game. The Rebels attempted an onside kick, but Spenser Rositano grabbed the ball and fell on it to extinguish any Fairfax hopes for a miracle comeback.
Led by Marcus Harris’ 205 yards, the Bulldogs wound up with 258 rushing yards for the evening. In its 6 games so far this season, Stone Bridge has run for at least 224 yards in every game but one (162 vs Westfield on 4 September). As a team, the Bulldogs are averaging 247 rushing yards per game and another 114 passing (total: 361 yards total offense per game).
The Stone Bridge defense had another productive evening, holding Fairfax to just 67 rushing yards on 39 attempts (1.7 yards per rush). In 6 games, the defense has given up 339 rushing yards – that’s 57 yards per game.
Stone Bridge is now 6-0, and 3-0 in the Liberty District. The next 4 weeks will each bring tough challenges to the Bulldogs, starting with the Homecoming game on 16 October vs James Madison. The Warhawks are 3-2 as of 9 October (scheduled to play South Lakes on 10 October), and 2-1 in the District. Langley, the opponent on 23 October, lost its first 4 games, but has won 2 in a row, including a victory over Herndon.
The final two opponents in the regular season, McLean (4-2, 2-1 in the District) and South Lakes (4-1, 3-0 in the District) are also having strong seasons thus far.
With the loss to Stone Bridge, the Fairfax Rebels are now 2-4 (1-2 in the District). Their next opponent is South Lakes.
<b>NOTES</b>When Stone Bridge shut our Jefferson and Marshall in successive games this season, it marked only the second time in its 10 seasons that it did so. The first time? All the way back in…2008! Stone Bridge defeated Langley (38-0) and Madison (35-0) on consecutive weeks in October of last year.
-Spenser Rositano is averaging 19.0 yards per punt return (5 returns), and Marcus Harris leads the team in kickoff returns with 35.4 yards per return (5 returns).
-Placekicker Abdul Shaban has been successful on all 24 of his PAT kicks this season. He was 83-for-85 in 2008.
-Fairfax was successful on 6 of 8 4th down conversion attempts against the Bulldogs. No other opponent so far this season had been able to convert on 4th down.