Stone Bridge shakes off turnovers, rallies past Yorktown for AAA Northern Region title
By Brandon Parker,
As Nick Yore tumbled into the end zone for another Yorktown score during the first half of Friday’s Virginia AAA Northern Region Division 5 final against Stone Bridge, a hush fell over the home stands in Ashburn.
The last time the No. 2 Bulldogs had trailed beyond the first quarter, they suffered a season-ending loss in the 2011 region semifinals. But as some braced for another disappointment with eighth-ranked Yorktown up 22 points early in Friday’s contest, one voice bellowed in defiance on the Stone Bridge sideline.
“No more!” Bulldogs senior Jonathan Allen screamed into the face of fellow defenders. “No more touchdowns! We won’t let them have anymore!”
The Bulldogs responded with 55 straight points that led to an eventual 69-50 win and the team’s sixth region crown in eight years. Stone Bridge advances to play at Central Region champion Hanover in a Division 5 state semifinal.
Allen took care of the defense, recording a sack, fumble recovery and two blocked extra points, while Rassaun Goldring (a punt and kick return for a touchdown) and D’Ante Yarborough (204 total yards, three scores) led a Stone Bridge offense that racked up 501 yards.
Prior to their offensive barrage, the Bulldogs (13-0) could only seem to produce turnovers. Three fumbles and an interception led to 29 consecutive points for Yorktown, including a nifty hook-and-ladder play that junior running back M.J. Stewart took 65 yards for one of his five touchdowns. Stewart finished with 220 total yards.
“We knew how big this game was, and I felt like I was losing the game for my team,” said Goldring, who fumbled twice. “We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Stone Bridge’s first turnover-free drive of the second quarter resulted in a Sterling Dailey touchdown run that cut the deficit to 29-15 with 6 minutes 55 seconds left in the half.
The Bulldogs held Yorktown and Ryan Burns scored on a four-yard run that pulled Stone Bridge within 29-22 at the half.
After forcing a three-and-out on Yorktown’s opening possession of the second half, Goldring took the ensuing punt 44 yards for a score that cut the deficit to one point. On the first play of the Patriots’ next possession, Stewart fumbled and Allen recovered at the Yorktown 8 to set up Christian Strahin’s one-yard run that gave the Bulldogs the lead for good.
The Patriots (12-1) failed to record a first down in the third quarter while the Bulldogs racked up 33 points on Goldring’s punt return, two long Yarborough touchdowns and another Dailey rushing score.
“You start to wonder a little bit when things aren’t going your way, but I felt like we could score on every drive as long as we didn’t fumble,” Bulldogs Coach Mickey Thompson said. “[Yorktown] still made some plays . . . but we were able to get the momentum back when we needed to.”