Loudoun County picked a prime time to avenge a couple regular season losses.
Buoyed by a brilliant start, the Raiders held off Leesburg rivals Tuscarora, 30-21, on Friday night to advance to the Virginia AA Region II Division 4 final and avenge losses in each of the last two regular seasons. With the win, Loudoun County move on to their first region final since 1996.
Loudoun County roared to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter behind quarterback Jake Lokey. The senior threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns and led a crucial drive that ended in a 20-yard field goal to extend the Loudoun County lead to 30-21 with 4 minutes 48 seconds left. Senior Mike Anderson had two interceptions to lead a rugged defensive effort by the Raiders (10-2).
The Huskies (10-2) won, 21-7, on Loudoun County’s home field in September and also knocked off their Route 15 neighbors last fall, providing added motivation for the Raiders .
“It’s everything,” Lokey said. “Regular season matters but it doesn’t matter as much as playoffs. We understood that. We came out, hit them in the mouth and got the job done.”
Anderson snagged his second interception of the game at the Raider 12-yard line with 1:23 left to seal the victory.
“We knew we had to come out, last chance and get a win against them, especially them getting our number earlier in the season,” Anderson said.
The Raiders came out on fire, forcing a punt and then marching 55 yards on a six-play drive capped by Matt Arneson’s three-yard touchdown run. The Raiders then took to the air. Lokey completed his first nine passes for 141 yards and two scores, a nine-yard pass to Brad Szoka — the first of his two touchdown catches on the night — and a 20-yard fingertip grab by Antonio Jackson.
That’s when the Huskies woke up. Set up by a 48-yard run by Adrien Stinger, Nick Azzarita snuck in from one yard to cut the lead to 20-6 early in the second quarter. Sophomore Noah Reimers scored the first of his two touchdowns before the half to pull Tuscarora within 20-14.
The Huskies had a chance to take the lead before intermission, but A.J. Bourschedi picked off Azzarita to end the threat.
The Huskies, who moved up to Division 4 this season, lost in the region semifinals for the second time in their third year as a program.
“The character of this group is outstanding,” Tuscarora Coach Mike Burnett said. “To start in that hole and then dig out of it and just not quit, that’s what you take from it. You can’t be devastated when your kids show that kind of character.”
The Raiders will face top-seeded two-time defending champions Briar Woods, a 42-14 winner over Liberty, in next Friday’s final. The fifth-ranked Falcons (12-0) blasted Loudoun County 45-0 in their regular season finale and ended the Raiders’ 2011 season with a 29-19 win in last year’s region semifinals.