Oakton 28, Stone Bridge 6
Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson stood just outside his team's locker room Friday night and paced slowly. No loss ever sits well with a coach, and this 28-6 decision at No. 16 Oakton, last season's Northern Region Division 6 finalist, was no exception.
But Thompson had a look of confidence that was as unmistakable as the disappointment.
"I was proud to find out that we are tough enough, and we do have kids with character on this team," said Thompson, whose Bulldogs are new members of the Northern Region Division 5 league. "That's something that with such a young group I wasn't sure of. And that gives us something to build on.
"We just have to do a better job with our preparation because tonight we just made too many mistakes, and you can't do that against a team like this. You have to be able to play at a high energy level and with hope, and we couldn't get anything going to give us that hope."
Stone Bridge (1-1) and Oakton (2-0) combined for 17 penalties for 130 yards. That figure, though, does not take into consideration the number of yards that were called back or the number of penalties that were declined -- which added to the frustration on both sides.
"It's frustrating to play a game with that kind of stoppage of play," Oakton Coach Joe Thompson said. "We couldn't get anything going without someone throwing a flag for something. The amount of yards we had called back was just disgusting."
Other mental mistakes on the part of the Bulldogs proved costly. Stone Bridge fumbled a punt in its end zone midway through the second quarter that was recovered by Oakton junior Kevin Swanson for the only touchdown of the opening half. Then the Bulldogs misfired on an onside kick attempt to start the second half that was intended to catch Oakton off guard.
The Cougars recovered the kick at the Bulldogs' 46-yard line and needed six plays to increase their lead to 21-0 on a tough 19-yard run up the middle by senior Keith Payne.
"As it turned out, I guess that onside kick wasn't the best thing to open the half, but I was looking for some spark to get our emotion going and allow us to compete," Mickey Thompson said.
The only real momentum booster for Stone Bridge was a 72-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Terrence Glenn with 11 minutes 45 seconds to play. But Stone Bridge was unable to put any real pressure on because of a lengthy 12-play scoring drive on Oakton's ensuing possession that took nearly six minutes.
Oakton senior running backs Payne (13 carries, 79 yards) and Taylor Naleppa (12 carries, 82 yards) handled most of the load on the drive, but it was senior quarterback Kevin Houghton who capped the effort with a three-yard touchdown run.
"I knew they were good up front, but to have that size and then have two top-notch running backs, by the end they were really wearing on us," Mickey Thompson said.
Aside from the first-half turnover, the teams played fairly evenly in the first half, with Stone Bridge compiling 83 yards and Oakton 86. But by the second half, penalties and miscues took their toll on the Bulldogs.
"We're a young team, and we need to learn to focus better so we can cut down on those mistakes," Glenn said. "But we'll go back and work hard in practice, and we'll do that. And what we showed tonight is that if we do, we can play these guys. We can play with anybody."