For more than three hours Thursday, both Patriot and Forest Park’s football teams had seemingly thrown caution to the wind, twisting a season-opening rustiness that yielded eight turnovers into an electrifying offensive display featuring 927 yards and 15 touchdowns.
It wasn’t until the opening series of overtime, after top rusher Jake Caparella left the game with cramps and with the Pioneers in need of a fourth-down score, that Patriot sophomore J.B. Thompson felt the gravity of his first varsity contest.
“I felt some nervousness after Jake went down, but I just told myself I had to take over,” said Thompson, who finished with 50 yards.
Though inexperienced, Thompson was well equipped with the tools necessary to keep Patriot’s offense churning, producing a three-yard touchdown run along the left side that lifted the No. 10 Pioneers to a 55-49 overtime victory in Nokesville.
“I always want to pass the ball, so that’s what I was ready to do,” Patriot quarterback Cody Agnew said. “But we put a lot of trust in J.B. and each other, and he got it done.”
Before that point, the Pioneers rode Caparella in their up-tempo offense. With quick yet sturdy legs, the senior kept the Bruins off balance on his way to five touchdowns and 215 rushing yards.
As Caparella carried Patriot to a 21-7 second-quarter lead, the Bruins failed to convert a first down in the opening 11 minutes and lost their first of four fumbles. It took a 29-yard, fourth-down heave from Nathan Perrin to Eric Kumah into the end zone to get Forest Park in rhythm just before the second quarter.
The play opened the field for the rest of Forest Park’s receivers, who snagged passes from Perrin (408 passing yards, six touchdowns) across the middle and in the flats as the Bruins roared to four third-quarter scores — the last of which came on a Christian Nelson interception, giving Forest Park its first lead at 41-35.
While both offenses traded touchdowns and big plays, sloppy play threatened to unravel their chances, including a fourth-quarter sequence in which they traded fumbles on four straight plays.
“I’ve never been in a game like this with so many touchdowns and so many mistakes,” Patriot Coach Brud Bicknell said. “We had our strong moments, but we also put ourselves against the wall at some points, too.”
One of those moments came during the final minute of regulation, when Perrin drove the Bruins 78 yards before finding Nelson for a 12-yard score and converted a two-point play that tied the game at 49 and forced overtime.
Forest Park’s fortune appeared to stretch into the extra session, when Kumah intercepted a fourth-down Patriot pass. But a defensive holding penalty gave the Pioneers another chance — one that Thompson turned into his first varsity touchdown and Patriot’s first win of the season.