Stone Bridge 45, Charlottesville 35
Surrounded by singing and smiling teammates, Stone Bridge defensive tackle Darryl McDowell danced like Ray Lewis after the Bulldogs' 45-35 win over host Charlottesville High School today in a Virginia AA Division 4 Region II semifinal.
The 5-foot-11, 350-pound senior had an impact on the game like the Baltimore Ravens linebacker does in the NFL. McDowell tackled Charlottesville running back Tommy Lucas for a safety with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter, highlighting the second of Stone Bridge's two comebacks from 14-point deficits.
After McDowell's safety, which cut the Charlottesville lead to 35-30, Stone Bridge (9-2) scored two touchdowns to earn its first playoff victory in the three-year history of the school.
"That's our victory dance, it's kind of like a good luck thing," said McDowell after imitating Lewis's knee-bending, arm-flapping pregame ritual. "That was the most intense, best game I've ever played in my life. I loved it. This is the first playoff win in Stone Bridge history, so this one is going down in the books."
Stone Bridge will play Fauquier, which beat Park View on Friday, in the Region II final.
Stone Bridge fell behind 14-0 just 2 minutes 22 seconds into the game after Charlottesville (10-1) recovered two fumbles. But Bulldogs junior quarterback Michael O'Brien scored twice after two long scoring drives to cut the Black Knights' lead to 21-14 with 10 minutes 17 seconds remaining in the half.
Junior running back Landon Gouveia scored on a two-yard run to tie the score, and the defensive line, led by McDowell, stuffed Charlottesville on two consecutive plays from the 1-yard line with under 30 seconds remaining to preserve the halftime tie.
The second half followed much the same pattern. After Charlottesville scored twice on two long passes to take a 35-21 lead, Gouveia (158 yards) scored on two- and 12-yard runs -- sandwiching McDowell's safety -- to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game, 38-35, with two minutes left in the third quarter. O'Brien added his third touchdown four minutes later.
From there, McDowell and the defense did not allow Charlottesville a first down, sacked quarterback Cecil Turner once and forced five straight incompletions to end the game.
"The defense in the second half, they kept coming up with big play after big play," Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson said. "I thought Darryl McDowells's play inside was huge . . . and the whole defensive line played really well. To me, that was the key of the game."