Bright yellow penalty flags fell with a frequency that seemed to match the rain last night at Oakton High in Vienna -- and made an equal mess of the Cougars' field. But 16th-ranked Oakton overcame the barrage of both, including 10 costly penalties, for a 28-6 victory over Stone Bridge.
"It's frustrating to play a game with that kind of stoppage of play," Oakton Coach Joe Thompson said. "We couldn't get anything going without someone throwing a flag for something. The amount of yards we had called back was just disgusting."
It was mental mistakes on the part of the Bulldogs that proved most detrimental. Stone Bridge (1-1) fumbled a punt in its end zone midway through the second quarter that was recovered by Cougars junior Kevin Swanson for the only touchdown of the first half. Then the Bulldogs misfired on an onside kick attempt to start the second half that was intended to catch Oakton (2-0) off guard.
The Cougars recovered the kick at the Bulldogs 46-yard line and needed six plays to increase their lead to 21-0 on a tough 19-yard run up the middle by senior Keith Payne.
"As it turned out, I guess that onside kick wasn't the best thing to open the half, but I was looking for some spark to get our emotion going and allow us to compete," Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson said. "We just made too many mistakes, and you can't do that against a team like this. You have to be able to play at a high energy level and with hope, and we couldn't get anything going to give us that hope."
The Cougars also struggled to find momentum offensively; their second drive of the third quarter was marred by four consecutive penalties and eventually ended in an interception. A long fourth-quarter drive ended positively -- on a three-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Kevin Houghton -- but was also muddied by four more penalties.
"There were a lot of sloppy mistakes out there," Oakton senior Taylor Naleppa said. "But the way our defense executed all night we kept getting more chances, and eventually we wore them down."
-- Angela Watts