Stone Bridge 35, Potomac Falls 21
Stone Bridge senior Thao Ngo was crowned homecoming queen at halftime of the Bulldogs' 35-21 victory over Potomac Falls on Friday but was told she'd have to wait until Saturday night's dance to find her king. That's because five football players were named to the senior court -- and they were in the locker room, not on the field, when Ngo was crowned.
Linebacker Khalil Conteh, lineman Nate Gamble, tight ends Brian Calloway and Ed Wang and quarterback Sean Ryan all left the field with an equal shot at being dubbed royalty.
In the victory, however, one player clearly reigned supreme.
Ryan, with help from an offensive line that gave him plenty of time to operate, shredded Potomac Falls (3-4 overall, 2-2 AA Dulles District) for 179 yards passing and two touchdowns in the first 24 minutes. That's more yards from one facet of the offense -- and in one half -- than the Panthers' top-rated defense came into the game allowing (175.7) in an entire outing.
"We didn't get any pressure on him, and you can't do that when you're facing such an accurate passer," Potomac Falls Coach Casey Childs said of Ryan. "He sat back there in that first half and just picked us apart."
Ryan completed his first six attempts and finished the half 14 of 18, including a remarkable 13-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Andrew Ryan (no relation) with three seconds remaining in the second quarter to give the 15th-ranked Bulldogs a 28-7 halftime lead.
The score answered a 55-yard touchdown pass from Potomac Falls senior Mario Lanza to senior tight end Adrian Tracy with 1:43 left in the half that had narrowed Stone Bridge's lead to 14. Those were the only points the Panthers scored against the Bulldogs' first-team defensive unit all night.
"That play at the end of the half was supposed to go to Brian Calloway," said Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson, whose team improved to 7-0, 4-0. "But Sean saw the drop-off on Calloway and went to Andrew Ryan in the back of the end zone instead. There are not too many high school quarterbacks who can make that kind of adjustment.
"He has a lot of freedom out there. Even if it's a fourth-down situation, he has the option to quick kick or pass. If he wants to go for it he can. That's because we have complete faith in his decision making."
Ryan finished the game 16 of 21 for 227 yards despite sitting out most of the fourth quarter. He returned to the game only after two late scores by the Panthers after a one-yard run by Darren Bailey and a 16-yard pass from Lanza to Tracy -- the latter of which came with 3 minutes 27 seconds remaining -- had pulled Potomac Falls back within two scores.
But Stone Bridge freshman Kevan Walker fielded the attempted onside kick, and two plays later Sean Ryan found Andrew Ryan for a 17-yard gain that moved the chains and kept the clock rolling. After one more first down, the Panthers were unable to prevent the Bulldogs from running out the clock.
"We needed a win like this," said senior linebacker Stephen O'Brien. "Last week we played a rough game against Loudoun County, and we heard plenty about it. Monday was not a pretty practice. Our mistakes had been all discipline things, with penalties and missed assignments. So all week we worked on getting back to Stone Bridge football and our form of domination. Anything less tonight was going to be unacceptable."
The Bulldogs, who entered this game averaging more than 100 yards of penalties per game, were flagged only once, losing 15 yards for roughing the punter.
"I thought we played very well tonight," Thompson said. "I do wish at the end of the game that some of our guys had been more ready when they got their opportunity, but that was the only negative. We took advantage of all of our other opportunities."
None, of course, more so than Sean Ryan, though he left the field with one rare opportunity still left.
"Nah, Brian Calloway is my hero. He'll be homecoming king," Ryan said of his tight end, who led all receivers with six receptions for 82 yards. "That's my prediction."