Two weeks ago, Manassas Park needed to stuff a two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds to win at Clarke County. On Friday night, the Cougars had to drive 97 yards to score with about three-and-a-half minutes left to notch a 21-14 home victory over George Mason in a game that pitted teams with unbeaten Bull Run District records.
So do these close calls strengthen the Cougars' resolve, or make them think their 23-game winning streak is on wobbly footing?
"To me, it makes me feel like our team is stronger, because you don't want to be in the postseason and never have been in a situation where you're behind or tested," Manassas Park Coach Jeff Lloyd said after the George Mason game, referring to two years ago when his team lost at Essex in a Virginia A Division 2 semifinal.
"I think a lesser team tonight would have said, 'You know what? This is too hard.' But those kids, they don't know anything other than winning. They find a way."
Manassas Park had a special fan on hand Friday. Former quarterback Zach Terrell, an All-Met last season who led the team to the state title, was able to attend a game for the first time this season and to root on his cousin, Jay Terrell, the Cougars' quarterback. The elder Terrell now plays at Liberty University.
"Just another fan, just another fan," Jay Terrell said with a laugh. "I'll try not to get criticized by him a lot -- 'You can't do this like me.' We won, so that's all that matters."
"It was really neat because I talked to [Zach] for about an hour [Thursday] night on the phone," Lloyd said, "and he was excited and had called some of our kids he'd played with, making sure they were ready to play [George Mason]. That was a little bit of a lift for us."