Monday, November 12, 2012

Back In the Day November 23, 2003

** Editors Note:  This is the first in a regular series that will appear in the news section of Clarke County Sports reviewing sporting events CCS has covered over the years. The stories will feature the actual articles written, photo's and extras. Please send us your thoughts on the series..

Stone Bridge Wins the Battle of Champions
“Eagles Valiant Comeback Falls Short”

By Michael "Moe" Murphy
Special to the Loudoun Times-Mirror

ASHBURN, VA  Nov. 11, 2003 – When the Bulldogs and Eagles took the field Saturday there was magic in the air. Both teams sporting 11-0 perfect records, each team a champion of their respective district. The Region II Division 4 Championship was on the line. Over 6000 fans traveled to Ashburn on a bright sunny day. The Bulldogs were dealt a blow early when senior captain Landon Gouveia went down in front of the Bulldog bench at the 10:22 mark of the 1st period. He would sit out the rest of the game and left the field on crutches. “It’s a high ankle sprain,” said Gouveia as he entered the locker room, “I hope to be back for our next game. Our guys did a great job, they stepped up when they had to, my hats off to all of them, and they played great.” Shortly after the injury, Stone Bridge mounted an 80-yard drive that consumed just over 7 minutes; twice Stone Bridge converted on 4th down and was capped when Mike O’Brien went in on 4 down from the 2. Stephen Eaton added the extra point and Stone bridge led 7-0 with 1:42 to go in the 1st quarter.
Bulldog Mike O'Brien throws to Rick Calloway
Stone Bridge got their 2nd score with 9:37 in the 2nd quarter; O’Brien hit Rick Calloway on a fade to the left corner of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was good and the Bulldogs led 14-0. Stone bridge forced a quick Liberty punt, with the Eagle’s punting out of their end zone, the Bulldogs quickly put another score on the board when Mike O’Brien capped a drive by going in from 2 yards out. O’Brien for the day was 12 for 31 with 160 yards passing, with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also had 45 yards on 17 carries and 2 scores. After the Eaton conversion, the 21-0 score had Bulldog fans cautiously optimistic and Eagle fans wondering what was going on. Liberty did not give up and started moving the ball late in the quarter, an impressive drive ended on 4th down at the Stone Bridge 19 yard line with 1:38 to go in the half. The half would end 21-0 in favor of Stone Bridge.

VA Tech Bound Ed Wang Eyes Syracuse
 bound A.J. Brown in the Region II Championship
Liberty came out with vengeance in the 2nd half. The defense forced Stone Bridge to 3 and out with some ferocious hitting. Senior captain and Syracuse bound A.J. Brown put Liberty on the board early in the quarter when he broke around right end and raced 66 yards for the Eagles first score with 10:17 to go in the 3rd. Brown would score twice on the day and would lead all rushers with 160 yards on 21 carries. When asked about the halftime locker room talk Brown said “Our coach told us we could fold it up, or go out and play, he told us about his team coming back from 21 in a high school playoff game, we knew what we had to do, our defense came out and set the tone.” The attempt for 2 points failed. The Eagles mounted their 2nd scoring drive and quarterback Nick Monaco went in on 4th and 1 to pull the Eagles to within 9 at 21-12. Once again the extra point failed and with 3:55 to go in the 3rd quarter, Liberty was back in the game. Adrian Hull intercepted a Mike O’Brien pass to give the ball back to the Eagles with 50 seconds to go in the 3rd quarter. Momentum had clearly shifted over to Liberty. After another successful drive, Brown went in from 9 yards for his 2nd score, and with Malik’s extra point, the Eagles had scored 19 unanswered points and were within 2 at 21-19.

Bulldog Captain Landon Gouveia
leaves the field on crutches
The Bulldogs as they did a week earlier, rose to the occasion and put together a drive that included some big play conversions. On 4th and 2 from the Liberty 14 yard line, O’Brien showed run, but then hit a wide-open Ed Wang for a 14-yard touchdown pass, to seal the victory for the Bulldogs 28-19. The Eagles mounted a last drive but came up short on 4th down and 2 when Justin McKissick stuffed Justin Carrington and gave the ball back to the Bulldogs with time running out. McKissick said, “When they started to comeback, I started thinking about last week, I was pretty confident, I knew we had the heart to win this game.” About what Gouveia meant to the team, “Landon is like an older brother to me, it hit home, but I know he will bounce back next week.”

Liberty Head Coach Tommy Buzzo had nothing but praise for his entire team. “I’m proud of everyone one of our players. We are disappointed about the loss, but we won 11 games. They (Stone Bridge) made some big time plays and our kids never gave up. We asked our kids to step up and they did, I’m proud of how every player played in the 2nd half.” A.J. Johnson was gracious in defeat, he is very thankful for his career at Liberty and summed up his season after the game “This was the best team I have ever played on in any sport. It’s like a family out there. I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else. Win or lose they will always be my family.”

Stone Bridge Head Coach Mickey Thompson felt his team came through when they had to, “We played extremely well in the 1st half. When we came out in the 2nd half, we weren’t flat, but we didn’t have the same intensity that we had in the 1st half. They were taking it to us, a couple big plays by our offense and a score was what it took to stop the momentum.”

Stone Bridge Principal James Person presents the Region II Football Championship
trophy to the 2003 Stone Bridge Bulldogs Photo Moe Murphy / Clarke County Sports

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