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Blue Devils Just Miss Against Bulldogs
Blue Devils just miss against Bulldogs
There’s a good possibility that Friday’s showdown between defending VISAA Division 1 champion Liberty Christian and Fork Union, the top ranked team in the state headed into this weekend was just a glimpse into what fans might be treated to in November. This one had every thing, whether it was big plays on offense, defense or special teams. But in the end, the difference was a 44-yard field goal that sailed wide for the Blue Devils with time expiring, preserving a 36-33 victory for the Bulldogs.
“We made a couple of mistakes in the first half but I think we kind of leveled it out in the second,” said LCA coach Frank Rocco. “But that’s two very good high school football teams (playing today) and I’d put either one against anybody.”
From the get-go the Bulldogs were pulling out all the stops as their first play from scrimmage was an 80-yard bomb from Mathew Lewis to Jon Brado. But on the ensuing kickoff, as was the ebb and flow of this game, FUMA answered back with an 83-yard return for a touchdown by Tyron McDade. The next trade was a Tre Bradley 8-yard rushing TD for LCA and a 42-yard scoring scamper from Blue Devils running back Nick King. A failed extra point made it 14-13 for the Bulldogs and it stayed that way until the middle of the second quarter.
Brado picked up his second touchdown reception of the day with just under seven minutes until the break, this time taking a pass 38 yards from Zach Clinton. But in the next four minutes FUMA picked up a pair of huge plays to take the lead, closing the gap on a fumble forced by TJ Dudley and returned by McDade and getting out in front on a 65-yard strike from quarterback Christian Hackenberg to Chrystian Brown.
LCA broke out its two minute drill and took the lead going into the break. The Bulldogs got into the redzone with 16 seconds to go and no timeouts. Brado ran for 10-yards and was ruled to have crossed the goalline on an extremely close play as he was met and brought down by FUMA safety Malcolm Cook.
Up by one heading into the second half, the Bulldogs put FUMA in a hole as the Blue Devils struggled with turnovers. Clinton’s second TD pass of the afternoon, this one a 31-yarder to B.J. Farrow made it 33-26. A 20-yard field goal to begin the fourth quarter put the deficit at 10 points.
“We didn’t play the way we were capable of playing and they’ve got a great football team,” said FUMA coach Micky Sullivan. “It was a great football game. We put them in too many situations to score and then when we got in position to score, we didn’t.”
While he never reached the endzone, running back Carrington Mosley carried LCA all day as he moved the chains behind hard running, breaking tackles and finishing with 235 yards on 26 carries.
“He’s very strong,” Rocco said. “He’s kind of deceptive too because it’s not so much putting his shoulder down and barreling, he kind of knows how to get angles and plow himself through tight holes.”
Behind Hackenberg though Fork Union was able to fight back. The senior turned a broken play in a 10-yard TD run where he dove into the endzone, just narrowly getting the ball inside the pylon. The Bulldogs looked to have the game in control again with three minutes to go and threatening another field goal, but a huge sack on second and 10 wound up stalling the drive and giving the Blue Devils the ball back with just over two minutes and all their timeouts.
“When two of best teams in the state play each other, it’s a war and the team that wins is the team that makes the least number of mistakes,” Sullivan said. “They made less mistakes than we did.”
Methodically and patiently, FUMA worked the sidelines between Brown and fellow receiver Roma Michael. With just five seconds to go, Dylan McCormick came on to attempt a 44-yard FG to tie the game. The kick had more than enough distance, but was just wide left with time expiring.
For Fork Union, Hackenberg had 283 yards on 18 of 28 passing. King finished with 97 yards rushing on 16 attempts. Michael and Brown had 126 and 119 yards receiving respectively.
LCA (6-1) hosts Hargrave Friday at 7:30 p.m. With Benedictine and Blue Ridge after that, winning out the season would likely give the Bulldogs home field advantage for the playoffs.
FUMA (6-2) heads to face pass-happy Collegiate on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The loss was the Blue Devils’ first since its season opener on August 24.