For the first 48 minutes of play in last Friday’s Region II quarterfinal, the Indians seemed be setting themselves up for one of the greatest upsets in the history of the program. All the breaks - or a majority of them, at least - seemed be falling pleasantly in their favor. They fought valiantly, fueled by the thought that a victory really wasn’t all that far off, and took a inspiring 7-7 tie into the warmth of the visitor’s locker room.
But Briar Woods’ depth revealed itself over the final two quarters. The pendulum swung and the breaks began cascading down on the other side of the fence. When all was wrapped up, the Falcons’ were ultimately able to over come a lackluster first half and knock off the Indians by a score of 34-7.
It’s the second consecutive year that Briar Woods’ has ended Powhatan’s season in the playoffs. Last year, the Falcons knocked off the Indians 21-7 in the Region II championship game. Two weeks later, Briar Woods captured their second state championship in as many years at Liberty University.
Despite the large discrepancy in the final score, the Indians, in fact, struck the first blow of the game - on a throwback screen play, of all possible plays.
It unfolded as follows: quarterback Joe Lewis rolled out to his left, planted his feet, and chucked the ball back across the field to running back Norris Goode, who had a sprawling field of grass stretched out before him. Goode caught the pass and sprinted 47 yards, untouched, for the game’s first score.
Oddly enough, while that 47-yarder was Goode’s longest reception of the night, he ended with only 41 receiving yards, thanks to negative gain later in the contest. A true statistical anomaly.
The throwback screen was the first of several offensive wrinkles implemented by Coach Woodson in an attempt to keep the swarming Briar Woods’ defense at bay. The famous half back toss pass made an appearance, and was successfully executed for a ten-yard gain. Later in the contest, the throwback made another cameo, but the Briar Woods’ defense snuffed it out quicker than a dog on the hunt.
The night was filled with what-if moments, the biggest of which was a 61-yard touchdown run by Norris Goode early in the first quarter that was negated due to a holding call. Another such moment occurred late in the first half, when the Falcons recovered a Joe Lewis fumble on their own 39-yard line. Forty-eight seconds later, with a mere four ticks remaining in the first half, McSorley connected with Cam Serigne to knot the game at 7.
The Indians also had an opportunity to convert on a 40-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead early in the first half, but the hold was shaky, causing kicker Jonathan Malcolmb to squib kick a line drive right into the thick of the offensive line.
Although Malcomb couldn’t convert on that field goal, he came up several big plays on defense. In addition to tallying his first interception of the season, he also recorded a season-high nine tackles.
The Falcons’ vaunted passing attack was every bit as potent as advertised - at least during the second half. Briar Woods quarterback McSorley struggled over the first 48 minutes, completing 5-of-15 passes and airmailing several passes that should have been automatic completions.
But he finished the half with three straight completions, one for a touchdown, and would carry his hot hand into the second half.
Although he didn’t attempt nearly as many passes over the last two quarters, it was the quality of his throws, not the quantity, that ultimately spelled defeat for the Indians. He completed four of five passes for 160-plus yards and three touchdowns, two of which were hauled in by wide out Devin Ramos.
It was truly a tale of two halves.
Although the outcome may not have been what the Indians’ or their fans hoped for, Powhatan can take solace in three accomplishments. First of all, they forced McSorley, who came into the game with only two interceptions, to match his season total. Secondly, they nearly broke the century mark on the ground (95 yards) against a team that had given up only 326 rushing yards during the regular season. Lastly, they’re only the second team to come within 28 points of beating the Falcons this season - the other is Broad Run, who lost a 20-15 nail biter back in week two.
The loss officially ends Powhatan’s season. As for Briar Woods, they’ll continue the hunt for their third consecutive Division 4 state championship next week, at home, in the Region II semi-finals.