Since summer workouts began, second-year Potomac Falls Coach Jason Allen has preached family to his team. He told the players they couldn’t be successful unless they came together. Then in Friday night’s rivalry game with Dominion, with the Panthers clinging to a four-point lead with 41 seconds left, the defense worked as one.
Dominion senior Chad Smith took the handoff from Scotty Forbes and trudged forward on a pivotal fourth and two. Smith was met by four Potomac Falls defenders as they all worked to bring the strong Clemson commit to the ground. The run forced the chain gang to measure, but Dominion was three inches short as the Panthers clinched a narrow 10-6 home win over the Titans in Sterling.
“It’s exactly what we planned in the offseason of how we wanted to play football,” Allen said. “We wanted to play as a family, we wanted to play together. Potomac Falls has been missing a family atmosphere for a long time.”
That game-clinching stop at the Potomac Falls’s 2-yard line was just one of many for the Panthers’ defense that held Dominion to 177 yards of total offense. The Titans were only able to muster one touchdown on Forbes’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Luke Thompson with 11 minutes left in the second quarter.
Forbes and senior Jake Stapleton split time at the quarterback position as they continued to battle for the starting job. But no matter who was under the center, the Titans weren’t able to put together a long touchdown drive. The lone touchdown came on the first play of that second-quarter possession after taking over on the Panthers 40-yard line. The Titans didn’t help themselves with 115 penalty yards.
Dominion took a 6-0 lead into the intermission, but Allen gave an inspirational speech to his players after they gained 42 yards of offense.
“He told us that we need to win the game for everyone that comes out here,” Potomac Falls senior running back RJ Fie’eiki said. “He said we’re a family, and if we do our assignments correctly we could pull it off.”
After a Dominion muffed kickoff return to start the third quarter, it looked like the Panthers would finally score. But a drive that started on the Titans 20-yard line stalled, and they turned the ball over on downs. But two possessions later, the Panthers got the ball back in Titans territory.
Unable to run the ball between the tackles in the first half, Fie’eiki(59 yards, one touchdown) broke runs of 11 and 13 yards before punching it in from the 1-yard line with 10 minutes left in the game.
“We just persevered, we had confidence in the second half,” Fie’eiki said. “The whole week we’ve been thinking about the win. We weren’t sure we were going to get halfway into it, but we pulled it off.”
After the touchdown, Dominion had two more opportunities to answer but wasn’t able to score as Potomac Falls pushed the series advantage to 10-3.