McLean 13, Marshall 7
McLean senior John Oldenburg couldn't resist the chance to play "Sunday-style" football on Friday nights. So this season, he came out to play quarterback for the Highlanders. Directing a pro-style offense that mixes crisp passing routes with tough running, he helped the improving McLean program gain a winning record last night with a 13-7 victory in a Virginia AAA Liberty District game at Marshall.
Brendan Griffin provided the winning points for the Highlanders (3-2, 1-1), returning the second-half kickoff 87 yards for a score. But it was Oldenburg's poise and decision-making that clinched the win. He led the Highlanders on a 19-play, 84-yard drive to run out the final 9 minutes and 28 seconds.
Taking over at the McLean 8, Oldenburg completed four passes on the drive, which also featured seven carries by running back Erik Smith, good for 20 yards.
Smith opened the game's scoring by catching a three-yard pass from Oldenburg (9 of 15, 107 yards) to cap a seven-play drive. Smith (83 total yards) put his team in position to score, rambling 31 yards with a screen pass on third and 8 from his own 46.
"When I found out what kind of offense our coach [Rick Rivera] was going to use, I felt I had to come out for the team -- just for the thrill of it," said Oldenburg, a pitcher and shortstop on the McLean baseball team who had not played football since his freshman year.
"It's real football, just like what you see when you sit down on Sunday afternoons," Oldenburg said.
Said Rivera, a first-year coach: "John really takes command in the huddle and he really understands the game. I can't say enough good things about him."
McLean has not had a winning season since it went 5-4 in 2001. Last night, fullback William Corey (who had three touchdowns in last year's 28-6 win over Marshall) led the Highlanders with 111 yards on 24 carries.
But it was the one big break by Griffin, who had never scored on a kickoff return in his prep career, which made the biggest impact. Rivera said his team had set up middle returns on kickoffs all season, until it made some adjustments for the second-half boot.
"I got that wall in front of me and we just pile-drived them," said Griffin, who had to break just one tackle on the play.
In the first quarter, Marshall (2-3, 0-2) answered McLean's first score with an impressive drive of its own.
Wide receiver Steve Friend caught a medium-range pass over the middle from quarterback Stephen Gooding (98 yards passing) and then raced away from the defenders en route to a 55-yard score. William Blakeley's extra point tied it with 7:25 left in the first.
Marshall had a great chance to grab a lead just before halftime. Taking over at the Highlanders 40 after a punt with 2:19 left, Gooding completed a pair of 11-yard passes as part of a drive to get his team to the McLean 2 with 58 seconds to play. But two inside rushing plays gained nothing and then the Statesmen, with no timeouts left, sent Blakeley onto the field to try a short field goal. The snap, however, came just after the halftime gun.
McLean has won the past two games in the series and five of the past six.