Virginia AAA Division 5 final

Stone Bridge loses to Phoebus in Virginia state title game

Stone Bridge rode Marcus Harris's 47 carries but it was not enough for the Bulldogs to beat Phoebus in Saturday's Div. 5 state final.
By Matt Brooks
Sunday, December 13, 2009

CHARLOTTESVILLE -- Phoebus defensive back Dontrell Jones raced down the left sideline Saturday after intercepting Stone Bridge quarterback Brian Rody's first pass attempt on the opening drive of the Virginia AAA Division 5 final at the University of Virginia's Scott Stadium. Two plays later, the Phantoms were celebrating the game's first touchdown and sparking flashbacks to the lopsided 2008 semifinal between the two teams that began with a fumble returned for a score and ended in a Phoebus rout.

This time, the Bulldogs didn't go away. After falling behind 9-0 early in the second quarter and giving up a crushing 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half, Stone Bridge rallied to cut the deficit to a single score. The go-ahead-score never came, however, and Phoebus held on to win its second straight title, 15-10.

Despite being dominated in nearly every statistical category, the Phantoms stepped up when it mattered most, holding the Bulldogs on fourth down midway through the fourth quarter and intercepting Rody on Stone Bridge's final drive to seal the win.

"It was just a couple of plays that put us in a hole," said Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson, who called the loss the hardest to take of his career. "You take those plays away and I think everything that we wanted and everything that we expected was there."

The No. 5 Bulldogs (13-2) stuck to their single-wing offense throughout. Following a Phoebus safety that made the score 9-0, Bulldogs junior tailback Marcus Harris took direct snaps on eight of 10 plays to set up the Bulldogs for a 32-yard Abdul Shaban field goal that pulled them within 9-3 at the half.

The second half started much like the first, with the Phantoms (15-0) capitalizing on a big play -- this time coming on senior Colby Goodwyn's 99-yard kickoff return.

But the Bulldogs responded with another lengthy drive capped by Harris's one-yard plunge to pull within 15-10. After that, Stone Bridge was unable to get beyond the Phoebus 48-yard line.

"When we had to have stops, the defense bowed their necks and made stops," first-year Phoebus Coach Stan Sexton said.

Harris carried 47 times for 191 yards, shattering the record for rushing attempts in a state final, but the Bulldogs had little else to offer offensively. Rody attempted only three passes on the day and was intercepted twice.

After graduating 20 of its 22 starters from last year's state semifinalists -- which lost to Phoebus, 38-8 -- the Bulldogs were widely considered a long shot to make the trip back to Charlottesville for the first time since their 2007 championship.

"Everyone said we were going to have a down year this year, but obviously that didn't happen," senior linebacker Connor Calderwood said. "We're not overachievers; this is what we were supposed to do."

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