The Loudoun Report: Brownlee hurt, Jessop shines
Football kicked off Friday night around the region and nine Loudoun teams opened their seasons under the bright lights. The first slate of games included a pair of nail-biting defensive struggles, a few blowouts and plenty of breakthrough performances from new faces around the county. Here are a few highlights from Week 1.
McSorely comes through in the clutch
Coming into the season, the gameplan for Briar Woods was to giving opposing defenses a heavy dose of tailback Michael Brownlee. The 5-7, 190-pound senior produced a whopping 552 yards and seven touchdowns on 93 carries in the team's final three games of the 2009 season - all wins - and figured to be the focal point of the offense once again this fall. But on his first carry of the season Friday at Millbrook, Brownlee broke his leg in a pileup, forcing the Falcons to look elsewhere for an offensive spark.
"We had to change our gameplan a little bit," Briar Woods Coach Charlie Pierce said.
Freshman quarterback Trace McSorely completed 16 of 31 passes for 170 yards and Mark Leith's 1-yard plunge gave the Falcons a 7-0 halftime lead. But a safety followed by a Curtis Dailey-to-Boomer Kaczmarzewski touchdown pass in the fourth quarter put the home Pioneers up by two points with time winding down.
McSorely - who threw an interception on a bad read early on - led the Falcons down the field on a long drive in the final minutes to set up David Clements's 20-yard game-winning field goal with 10 seconds left to claim a 10-8 victory.
"We really had to scramble with Michael out of the game and then our backup tailback, Ryan Bumbray went down with a foot injury," said Pierce, whose team lost its first four games last season. "To go on that drive with a freshman quarterback and a JV running back and have David kick the game-winner right down the middle, it really showed our guys what they are capable of doing this year."
Jessop shines in new role
The past few seasons the Broad Run offense has relied heavily on the legs of talented running backs like Breon Earl or All-Met T.J. Peeler. But in Matt Griffis's new single wing offense, the pressure is on junior quarterback Connor Jessop to develop into a runner who can still air it out.
Friday night against Fauquier, Jessop showed just how much progress he's already made, leading the 13th-ranked Spartans in rushing with six carries for 57 yards and completing 9 of 11 passes for 173 yards and all three scores as Broad Run won its 31st consecutive regular season contest, 21-0.
All three touchdown passes went for more than 20 yards and two - a first-quarter hook up with Briar Woods transfer Steven Fields and fourth-quarter connection to Caleb Lindsey - went for more than 40 yards.
One year after hammering Dominion in Purcellville in its season opener, Loudoun Valley experienced complete déjà vu, dismantling the Titans in Sterling, 57-7. Senior quarterback Andrew Taylor threw five touchdown passes (11 of 18, 189 yards) and senior David Mellstrom did a little bit of everything to lead the Vikings. After putting Valley on the board with an 85-yard kickoff return for a score, Mellstrom caught a pair of touchdown passes from Taylor and also returned a punt 75 yards for another touchdown. Deandre Reaves rushed for 145 yards on 21 carries and scored the only touchdown for the Titans who threw four interceptions and lost two of their five fumbles on the night.