Yorktown Coach Bruce Hanson knew exactly who to turn to with his team trailing by one point and facing a fourth and two in the final minute against Hayfield on Friday night. He called on M.J. Stewart, and the junior running back responded with a back-breaking 27-yard touchdown sprint to put the Patriots ahead for good in the 17-10 win in a Virginia AAA National District game in Alexandria.
“I saw three pulling linemen, and that’s how it’s supposed to be,” said Stewart, who had 60 yards on 15 carries. “I just followed them, and they led me to glory.”
The Patriots’ win moved their record to 4-0, but it was far from flawless, particularly in a first half of little offense. Yorktown scored the game’s first touchdown in the third quarter on a 26-yard Nick Yore reception from Will Roebuck.
After Yore’s score made it 9-3, the Hawks (2-2) answered soon enough. Capitalizing on a Yorktown fumble, Ellis Knudson found Ahmed Conteh for a strike down to the 1-yard line. One play later, the Hawks were celebrating a Knudson touchdown run. The extra point was good, and Hayfield had a 10-9 lead.
That set the stage for Stewart. The Patriots’ scoring drive mixed in rushes, passes and a bit of trickery on a reverse to move them in close enough for Stewart’s punctuating run. It wasn’t what many expected, but the result — a win over the team’s top district rival — was exceptional nonetheless.
“Keep getting four and five yards, four and five yards,” Stewart said his coaches told him as the ground game stuttered and stalled. “Something’s going to open up soon, and it did.”
“I thought there was a good chance we weren’t going to win the game,” Hanson said. “But we won it.”