George Mason tried to hold on to the ball as long as it could to hold off Manassas Park on Friday night, going on three drives of six minutes or longer. But, like every other Manassas Park opponent this year, the Mustangs had no answer for the Cougars' Zach Terrell.
The senior quarterback rushed for a touchdown, threw scoring passes to seniors A.C. Fitchett and Joe Greene and had an interception as the Cougars clinched their third straight Virginia A Bull Run District championship with a 21-7 win in Falls Church.
Manassas Park (10-0, 4-0) got a tough game from the Mustangs (5-4, 2-1), who took twice as many snaps as the Cougars. But, in the end, Manassas Park proved too much as it won its 24th consecutive regular season game.
"Last year was very special," Manassas Park Coach Jeff Lloyd said of the 2003 team that also went unbeaten in the regular season. "This year is even more special. I don't think there was anyone outside our building who thought we could do it again. I'm not even sure we thought we could do it again. I'm very proud of these kids and what they've done."
Terrell rushed the ball 21 times for 127 yards, and he completed 7 of 13 passes for 138 yards. He finished his spectacular regular season with 18 touchdown passes, 20 touchdown runs, 1,836 passing yards and 1,345 rushing yards.
Manassas Park has a bye next week and will host a Region B Division 2 semifinal game the following week.
"We lost so many good players from last year, we didn't know what to expect," Terrell said. "To go 10-0 again is really amazing."
The Cougars struggled to get into an offensive groove, yet they had the advantage at halftime, sparked by a Terrell interception in the second quarter that led, four plays later, to a 29-yard scoring pass from Terrell to Fitchett. Fitchett has nine touchdown receptions this season.
George Mason, meantime, controlled the tempo with its single-wing, run-based offense, but the Mustangs never really threatened and did not score until it was too late. They ate up time in first-half drives of 6 minutes 1 second and 6:48, but they did not attempt their first play inside Manassas Park territory until the last three minutes before the half.
"They got four yards here, three yards there, and it's hard to defend," Terrell said. "You just have to be patient and hope for a break."