There were two theories floating around the Fauquier High School football team's locker room following its 12-7 loss to visiting Brooke Point on Friday night. One was that the Falcons had lost a tense, defensive battle. The other held that they lost because of bad luck.
Either way, it left John Stuart, Fauquier's senior co-captain and wide receiver, feeling frustrated.
"We should've won," he said. "We had the ball near their end zone twice, then couldn't put it in. If we had put it in one of those times, we win the game."
In the end, the Falcons could feel satisfaction that they scored only the third touchdown Brooke Point (3-2) had surrendered this season. But they also saw their record drop to 2-3, with a costly turnover late in the third quarter chiefly to blame.
The Falcons, clinging to a 7-6 lead, had a third-and-10 from its 14 when junior quarterback Michael Stuart dropped back to pass and was hit by Brooke Point's Jason Levister in the backfield. Stuart fumbled, and the Black-Hawks Michael Kessler recovered at the Fauquier 5-yard line.
John Stuart said the play could actually have gone Fauquier's way.
"The ball was loose for a long time, and no one realized it," he said. "I saw a Brooke Point player on it, then all of a sudden I looked, and it was at the guy's feet. I jumped for it and couldn't find it. I was hoping they didn't find it."
At that point, Stuart said junior teammate Derrick Bragg had a good chance at the ball, along with an unidentified Brooke Point player.
"But the guy that was next to Derrick Bragg was just bigger and stronger and just grabbed it from him," Stuart said.
Two plays later, Black-Hawk Jeff Tate ran the ball in from three yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The two-point attempt failed, but it didn't matter: Fauquier's offense was struggling so much that a five-point lead would prove to be enough.
"Shoot, they just played a good game," said senior fullback Eric Bailey, who had 69 rushing yards on 18 carries. "It came down to the point where luck went their way."
At the game's outset, luck appeared to be on Fauquier's side. Brooke Point fumbled the opening kickoff, and the Falcons recovered at the Black-Hawks' 23-yard line. Four plays later Michael Stuart, who had 40 yards rushing for the game, scored on a 10-yard keeper.
On its next possession, Fauquier drove the ball down to the Black-hawk 3-yard line but couldn't convert on a fourth-and-goal attempt. Brooke Point took advantage, moving the ball 24 yards before junior Larry Smith uncorked a 63-yard touchdown run down the right sideline. But the extra-point attempt failed because of a botched snap, and Fauquier held a one-point lead.
On its next drive, the Falcons again drove deep into Brooke Point territory, only to once again to give the ball up on downs.
"It took us a while to get in a feel for what they were doing," Brooke Point Coach Tom Berry said. "Toward the end of the first half, we started doing some things, started making some plays."
Tate ended up being the key player for the Black-Hawks. He ran for 80 yards on 15 carries, many in key third-down situations. He also completed three passes for 40 yards and made an interception at the Black-Hawk 35 that ended Fauquier's faint hopes in the final minute.
"You're not going to get many opportunities from them," Fauquier Coach Tom Ferrell said. "They've got a great defense, and they have speed we can't match."
Brooke Point (3-2, 1-1) 0 6 0 6--12
Fauquier (2-3, 0-1) 7 0 0 0--7
F--Stuart 10 run (Yoda kick)
B--L. Smith 63 run (kick failed)
B--Tate 3 run (run failed)
LEADING RUSHERS--Brooke Point: L. Smith 16-111, J. Tate 15-80, Thomas 2-7, Parker 2-2; Fauquier: Bailey 18-69, M. Stuart 7-40, Minor 13-39.
LEADING PASSERS--Brooke Point: Tate 3-10-0 46; Fauquier: M. Stuart 2-4-1 9, Bailey 0-1-0 0.
LEADING RECEIVERS--Brooke Point: Beltran 2-30, Washington 1-16; Fauquier: Bragg 1-6, Bailey 1-3.