Loudoun Valley 13,
Warren County 6
Loudoun Valley Coach Bruce Sheppard cringed just a little when Warren County junior H.B. Banjoman rumbled 77 yards on the first play from scrimmage against the Vikings on Friday night to set up a Wildcats touchdown. In an instant, though, he was clapping his hands and screaming to his defense that it was just fine.
Sheppard's players then validated his words of encouragement.
Warren County scored on a five-yard run by senior Danny Ziemer but was then locked down -- and shut out -- the remainder of the way. Loudoun Valley's defense did not yield another first down until the four-minute mark of the third quarter -- and, more impressively, only three more the entire game -- in a hard-fought 13-6 win. The Wildcats (1-1) totaled just 85 yards of offense after Banjoman's opening run.
"After I broke that long run, I don't know what happened," said Banjoman, who accounted for 133 of the Wildcats' 162 total yards. "I just couldn't seem to go anywhere after that."
What happened is that the Vikings' defensive front, led by senior Jimmy Phillips and linebackers Steven Harvey and Michael Solberg, went wild. Fooled no more by the Wildcats' single-wing offense, the unit did not yield another play of more than 10 yards. This despite three second-half fumbles by the Vikings that kept the defense on the field nearly all of the third quarter.
"This was definitely a defensive battle, and that's fine. We like playing in defensive games," said Sheppard, whose team improved to 2-0. "But we sputtered so much on offense and made so many mistakes that we just wore our defense out tonight.
"There were two or three situations where all we had to do was just get another first down, and we could have put this game away. But instead, we just kept finding ways to put ourselves in situations where we had to bring the defense back out there to fight. I guess maybe we were trying to prove how tough we are or something."
In addition to the three fumbles, Loudoun Valley's offense struggled to move the football. The Vikings ended with zero passing yards on just one attempt and, save a 75-yard touchdown run by senior Bret Mottice on the first play of the second quarter, managed just 142 yards the rest of the game.
Mottice (game-high 126 yards rushing) also accounted for the Vikings' first touchdown, a 14-yard run off the right side in which he rested his forearm on the blockers in front of him, including lineman Kyle Johnson and wideouts Cody Farr and Ryan Sheehan, and followed them all the way into the end zone.
First-year quarterback Stephen Sheehan, a senior, totaled 27 yards rushing and was 0 for 1 passing after totaling 93 yards rushing, 48 passing and a touchdown in his debut against James Wood last week.
"Stephen has a great arm and can throw the football. I'm not worried about that," Sheppard said. "Right now he's just going through some of those things that first-year quarterbacks do. He's struggling a little bit with his footwork. But in his defense, we also had a couple technical glitches that broke down the protection in front of him and didn't get him much time."
While the Vikings' inexperienced offense works through its growing pains, the defensive players said they don't mind a bit carrying the load.
"There's a little bit more pressure on our defense, but you saw tonight that we can handle that," said Farr, who had three pass breakups playing cornerback. "It was the defense, this time, that really held on for the win. Basically we're just playing our guts out."