Liberty 14, Fauquier 6
In typical fashion, last night's annual Bird Bowl between Fauquier County's only two high schools -- Fauquier and Liberty -- started with a celebration representative not only at the arrival of the high school football season but also the unique intensity of this rivalry.
Fans started filling the parking lots at Fauquier High in Warrenton more than two hours before kickoff, arranging lawn chairs, firing up grills and organizing impromptu games of football on the school's front lawn.
"Everyone out here grows up loving one of the two schools and hating the other," said Fauquier junior Everett Johnson, who painted his arms red underneath his white tank top and donned a red wig he and classmates Colin Miller and Jordan Salyards purchased at a nearby costume shop. "That's just the way it is."
Unfortunately for Johnson and the rest of the Falcons faithful, this game ended the same way it has many times in recent memory -- with the Eagles on top.
No. 19 Liberty, embarking on a quest for a third consecutive undefeated regular season, powered its way through the final 12 minutes for a come-from-behind 14-6 victory before an estimated 6,000. It marked the 22nd straight regular season win for the Eagles and their fifth in a row over the Falcons.
Fauquier gave Liberty everything it could handle and kept fans on their feet until the final nine seconds, when its threat to tie ended on a fumbled snap at the Liberty 28-yard line.
"Our kids played tough," said first-year Falcons coach Greg Hatfield. "Liberty is a great football team, and we were right there with them. But we have to be able to take advantage of opportunities, and we didn't do that tonight. Against a team like that you just can't afford mistakes."
Both teams struggled offensively in the opening half, squandering two opportunities each inside their opponents' 15-yard line. The second half proved more fruitful, with the Falcons striking first on a 22-yard pass in the third quarter from quarterback Zac Caito to sophomore Aubrey McLean.
The Eagles countered, marching 62 yards on their ensuing possession to take the lead on a 13-yard run by fullback Bryan Roof and the point-after by senior Steve Malik. Senior halfback Adrian Hull (game-high 90 yards) added a 30-yard touchdown score with 2 minutes 3 seconds to play for what proved the final margin.