Heritage 23, Potomac Falls 16 (OT)
Overtime was just about to begin in Leesburg Friday night between Heritage and visiting Potomac Falls when the public address announcer took a moment to read scores from other area high schools. The big one: Loudoun County 20, Park View 12.
"As soon as he said that I knew we still had a chance to win at least part of the district championship and that we still had a chance to get into the playoffs," Pride senior quarterback Bryan Brosnan said. "I knew right then we were going to get it done."
On the third play of overtime, Brosnan found junior tight end Zak Burkhard for an 11-yard touchdown pass and the lead. When the Pride defense held Panthers senior Jay Branom to negative yards on his first three carries of overtime to force Potomac Falls into a passing situation on 4th and 16, the players could sense victory.
Heritage junior Bobby Edmonds said he could too, and on the game's final play, he intercepted Branom's pass just as he had done on the last play of regulation.
"I saw him scrambling and scrambling," Edmonds said. "But then out of the corner of my eye I saw one of their receivers cutting across the middle, and all I thought was that I just had to get to the ball."
The game marked the Panthers' second consecutive overtime loss, which was particularly devastating to Coach Casey Childs because of his team's effort both weeks. Branom, in particular, and his offensive line proved nearly unstoppable in both outings. With a big push up front and Branom's hard-nosed rushing style, he racked up 276 yards rushing against Park View last week and 282 Friday against Heritage.
"I didn't sleep well last night because I kept seeing him running all over the place in my head," Heritage Coach Wes Driskill said of Branom. "And it was pretty much like that tonight. My hat's off to him."
Branom totaled 100 carries in the two games and completed a combined 8 of 22 passes for 116 yards, meaning he was involved in nearly every offensive snap the Panthers took -- and the standout linebacker plays on at least 75 percent of the defensive snaps as well.
"He's a phenomenal player," Childs said. "You put the ball in his hands as many times as we do, and he just never backs down. He gets tired, there's no doubt, and so do the kids blocking up front for him, but they never back down. It's just a shame the last two weeks it's come down to overtime and we haven't been able to get it done."
But as overpowering as Branom was, this game -- this senior night -- belonged to Brosnan & Co. Trailing 16-9 with less than four minutes to play, Brosnan (19 for 25, 216 yards, 1 touchdown, no interceptions) drove the Pride down the field, completing 8 of 10 passes for 57 yards and scrambling twice for 20 more before finding junior Matt Lucas in the end zone to send the game into overtime.
"The funny thing is Matt, until this year, hasn't been known for his hands," Driskill said, laughing. "But he, and all of these guys, they've just worked so hard. This right here is four years worth of work."
The win keeps the Pride's playoff hopes alive heading into the team's season finale at Loudoun County. Heritage must win and have Park View lose to Broad Run to get into the postseason.
"This has to be the greatest feeling ever," senior Pierce Bullock said. "I never thought we'd have this kind of experience -- this kind of chance -- still left. And as seniors, it couldn't be better. I'm really speechless."