Justin Baker teetered back and forth trying not to put too much weight on either of his sprained ankles. Cam Serigne let his left arm hang limp at his side and grimaced as the pain shot through his elbow and shoulder.
But both players still found reason to smile as they posed alongside their Briar Woods teammates following the Falcons’ 21-7 victory against Powhatan in the Virginia AA Region II Division 4 final on Friday night in Ashburn.
It was that kind of game and the run-heavy style of play from both teams took its toll on the myriad two-way players on the field. These are also the types of games the Falcons defense lives for, and the reason they find themselves two wins away from a second consecutive state championship.
“We knew it was going to be a very physical, hard-hitting game. But losing tonight would have hurt a lot more than the pain in my ankles or the pain any of our guys are feeling right now,” Baker said. “Being our last game at home, we had to give at all. The aches and pains are going to come, but we’ve got two more games to play.”
For the second time in as many weeks, the Falcons found themselves trailing after the opening quarter. Powhatan quarterback Thomas Mitchell’s bootleg left resulted in a 44-yard touchdown and gave the Indians (9-3) an early 7-0 lead.
But hard-nosed running from junior Cory Colder led the Falcons back down the field and set up sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley’s six-yard touchdown run to tie the game late in the second quarter. Then, after the defense forced a three-and-out, McSorley found a wide open Serigne for a 36-yard touchdown — one of only four completed passes for McSorley on the night — to give the Falcons a 14-7 lead at the half.
After a Briar Woods fumble gave the Indians prime field position early in the second half, the Falcons defense forced a three-and-out, then stopped Powhatan on fourth down on four consecutive possessions — including once from the Falcons’ own 11-yard line - to seal the victory.
Senior Alex Carter’s jet sweep run for a 69-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter was the final blow as the Falcons (12-1) move on to the state semifinals where they will travel to the winner of the Region I final between Courtland and Grafton next Saturday.
Two weeks removed from a 361-yard 5-touchdown performance against James Wood, the Falcons held Powhatan halfback Ray Brown to only 68 yards on 25 carries. Mitchell completed only four of 16 passes for 60 yards as Briar Woods bottled up the line of scrimmage in the second half and locked down on the Indians receivers.
“The next couple weeks, it could come down to that again, and our defense will feel comfortable, knowing we can stop people,” Briar Woods coach Charlie Pierce said. “That really hasn’t happened this year. That was a good training session for us, but it wasn’t anything special - just assignment football.”