Chantilly quarterback Sonny Romine tucked the ball into his running back’s stomach, glanced upward and shook his head in disbelief as a wall of Stone Bridge defenders came crashing down on Ross Simms in the backfield.
Time and time again the Chargers tested the teeth of the Stone Bridge defense. More often than not, they were stifled for a short gain or a loss.
Led by their ferocious front seven and a breakout game from speedy wing back Rassaun Goldring, the No. 3 Bulldogs bullied their way to a 24-8 win.
A year after Stone Bridge self-destructed in the fourth quarter of a 22-14 loss to Chantilly, the Bulldogs did their best to put the game out of reach early. And as usual, that effort started up front.
Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, an Alabama recruit, sacked Romine on the first offensive play and senior Cameron Reynolds capped Stone Bridge’s ensuing drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Bulldogs (2-0) forced another three-and-out on Chantilly’s next possession, and four plays later, Goldring sprung into the secondary and followed a massive block from quarterback Ryan Burns for a 40-yard touchdown scamper.
Chantilly’s next three drives ended in a pair of punts and an Allen sack and fumble that was recovered by Reynolds.
“They were going to grind it out — they were tough for that three or four yards,” Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson said of Chantilly’s running game. “In a close game, they could get into that, but if they had those long drives, we’d make a big play and get out of it.”
When the 15th-ranked Chargers (1-1) put a drive together late in the half, safety James Manning snuffed it out with an interception. That set up Brendan Smedley’s 34-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead at the break.
Already playing without injured in fullback Christian Strahin, the Bulldogs lost Sterling Dailey (eight carries, 80 yards) to a dislocated thumb in the first half, which gave Goldring a few more carries — and he took full advantage. The 5-8, 155-pound back piled up 140 yards on only nine carries, including a 12-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter that increased the Bulldog lead to 24-0.
“He’s not a running back, he doesn’t take any snaps in practice there, but because of the injuries he had to go there,” Thompson said. “He can do it all.”
Stone Bridge rushed for 323 yards on 34 carries while Chargers was held to 121 yards on 47. Zack Wilson had two of his team’s five sacks and the Bulldogs forced three turnovers to kill Chantilly’s brief momentum swings.
Simms finally got the Chargers on the board with a one-yard plunge early in the fourth quarter, but despite battling cramps, Stone Bridge’s defense held one final time and ran out the clock on their second straight win over a Concorde District team.
“We knew we had to finish because of what happened last year,” Goldring said. “Finishing strong in the fourth quarter was key.”