It would be easy enough to say that Manassas Park's 30-20 victory against Bull Run District rival Strasburg on Friday was about big plays. There were plenty to choose from, including Cougar senior quarterback Zach Terrell's 70-yard scramble for the game's final score with just 1 minute 49 seconds remaining.
Big plays, however, are nothing new to the Cougars (6-0, 1-0 Bull Run), whose offense is predicated on a long pass or a thrilling rush. Defeating the Rams on their home turf is.
Overcoming a 7-0 first-quarter deficit, Manassas Park won at Strasburg for the first time in Jeff Lloyd's seven-year tenure as head coach. The win not only extended the Cougars' regular season winning streak to 20 games, but it was a huge first step toward defending its district title.
So, despite Manassas Park's somewhat uneven performance and its defense's inability to shut down Strasburg's running game, Lloyd expressed pleasure after the game.
"Well, we gave up over 300 yards defensively tonight, but when we needed to make a play we made the play," Lloyd said. "Tonight was a real test of character for us because when we were down 7-0 in the first quarter and historically when we go down here we do not come back."
Manassas Park, which rallied three weeks ago from a 15-0 deficit to defeat Brentsville, 19-18, fell behind Friday night when Strasburg freshman running back Josh Kibler scored on a 23-yard touchdown run. The purple-clad Rams fans who packed the stands erupted in the hopes that its home dominance over Manassas Park would continue.
"A couple of our kids came off the field [after the first touchdown] with their heads down and I had to tell them you got to understand you are in for a football game tonight," Lloyd said. I told them the Rams "are here in their own house and you gotta make your own plays."
Manassas Park did exactly that: senior quarterback Zach Terrell answered Strasburg's score with a 51-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver A.C. Fitchett to knot the score at 7. The two connected again from 31 yards out early in the second quarter to make it 13-7. Terrell finished with 350 yards of total offense, with two rushing touchdowns to go with his two passing scores.
Strasburg (4-2, 0-1), though, was undaunted, as Kibler continued to pound the Cougar defense, finally scoring on a four-yard touchdown run to make it 14-13.
"We knew watching tape they would have the players, but our main focus was their running game," sophomore defensive end Anthony Williams said "We definitely didn't play our perfect game tonight, but even if we shut down a team 51-0 that's still not good enough for us."
Manassas Park caught a break when Strasburg fumbled a punt on its 40-yard line. Penalties stalled the offense, but the Cougars eventually came away with points as Robbie Mele hit a 35-yard field goal to make it 16-14 at the half, a lead the Cougars would not relinquish.
"We didn't play our best, but this is still a big win for us," Williams said. "Though I'm sure come Monday and Tuesday we are going to hear an earful from our coach."