Eagles score first, but Briar Woods wins 42-14
Saturday, Nov. 17
Darryll Gadsden and the Briar Woods Falcons beat Liberty, 42-14, Friday in Ashburn. --Times-Democrat Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Liberty made quite a statement on its opening drive Friday night in Brambleton, moving the ball 66 yards through the teeth of a Briar Woods defense generally considered one of the strongest in the state to take a 7-0 lead.
Eagle quarterback Tyler Longerbeam gained 35 yards on an option run, and Aristotle Howard scored on a 1-yard run as the Eagles drew first blood.
“Their quarterback made us miss. Give them credit for that first offensive series,” said Briar Woods coach Charlie Pierce.
“We were shell shocked, but we knew we could fix it,” said Briar Woods quarterback Trace McSorley.
Considering how well the Eagles played in the last third of the year, there was every reason to believe an upset was in the making in this Group AA Division 4 Region II semifinal.
That’s when McSorley and the two-time Division-4 state champions took the field and made their rebuttal statement, driving 76 yards to tie the game at 7-7, then stopping the Eagles and scoring again to make it 14-7.
Although Liberty fought back with another first half touchdown on Longerbeam’s 34-yard TD pass to Howard, the Falcons (12-0) took a 28-14 halftime lead en route to a 42-14 win, ending Liberty’s year at 7-5.
Despite the loss, the Eagles played well for the most part, but did not have quite enough weapons to deal with the Falcons, who extended the state’s longest active winning streak to 26.
“We played really hard tonight. We just didn’t play well,” said Liberty coach Sean Finnerty. “We should have had another TD or two. Against a team like that you have to bring your ‘A’ game. And we did not do that.”
"They're legit. Their pass rush was amazing. I did not have much time to to get rid of the ball," said Longerbeam.
Despite the disappointment, Finnerty called it a remarkable year that saw his team come together when many doubted them.
The Eagles lost three out of four games in the middle part of the year, including a 41-7 loss to Warren County in the district opener before heating up and winning a share of the Evergreen District title and eliminating longtime nemesis Sherando decisively in their playoff opener.
“We never stopped fighting, we kept going, I’m proud of my team,” said Howard.
“I wish we had more wins. I’ll miss my seniors, they were my friends, my family,” said Wyatt Teller.