Caleb Henderson, Lake Braddock top Westfield with late touchdown drive

September 20, 2013

Before Friday night’s game against No. 10 Westfield, Lake Braddock’s Caleb Henderson did something he’s never done before — he chugged an energy drink.

For about three quarters, the new ritual worked well for the senior quarterback as the sixth-ranked Bruins jumped to a 12-point advantage.

But in the final three minutes, with his team suddenly trailing and in need of a boost, Henderson struggled to move as cramps shot through both of his legs.

Fortunately for the North Carolina recruit, the energy drink failed to zap his arm strength. Henderson orchestrated a final-minute drive that ended with a 24-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Alexanderto push the Bruins to a 28-24 victory in Burke.

The outcome marked Westfield’s first regular season loss since Oct. 2010, a streak of 28 games.

Caleb Henderson passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Bruins in a matchup of Top 10 teams. (Nick Plum/The Washington Post)

At the outset of a clash between perennial powers, both teams struggled to gain control.

A muffed fair catch by Westfield set up a 42-yard rushing touchdown by Lake Braddock’s Trevor O’Brien.

The Bulldogs responded. A 78-yard touchdown run by Evan Gray was followed by a high snap by Lake Braddock that sailed over the punter’s head and out of the end zone for a safety.

But the Bruins (3-0) found a calming force in Henderson and tight end Ryan Antonellis.

On a night when Henderson went 14 for 23 for 238 yards, he connected with Antonellis five times for 152 yards and a five-yard touchdown that put the Bruins up 14-9 at halftime.

“Caleb has come a long way in his two years here and he stepped up again tonight,” Lake Braddock Coach Jim Poythress said. “Ryan has the size, speed and he works hard, and that’s why he’s a schoalrship player.”

Defensively, the Bruins held speedy Westfield wideout Devon Burns in check with just two catches for 16 yards, but the Bulldogs (2-1) found a spark in Tyler Thrasher-Walker, who powered his way to 182 yards.


Lake Braddock wide receiver A.J. Alexander leaps up to celebrate with teammate Josh Churchill (21) after Alexander hauled in the game-winning touchdown against Westfield. (Richard A. Lipski/For the Washington Post)

And when the senior went to the sideline after a hard shot to the ribs, Dominique Pearson stepped up to score on a three-yard run that put Westfield ahead 24-21 with 3 minutes 4 seconds left.

Despite Henderson’s cramps and the task of driving 62 yards with little time remaining, he and the offense found confidence from their success in the two-minute drill during practice.

Using a no-huddle scheme, Henderson twice found Antonellis for big gains. Then, with the attention on his tight end, Henderson connected with Alexander.

“We do what we do,” Henderson said. “In those one- and two-minute drills during practice, we score every time and the defense gets mad, but that’s what we do, and we got it done. Now we can exhale a bit.”

Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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