Fauquier football rebounds from typical Week 1 lull with 30-12 win over Skyline
Fauquier rushed for 220 yards during a 30-12 victory over Skyline on Friday in Front Royal. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Allowing fewer than 15 points didn’t pan out for the Fauquier Falcons last week.
They still lost to Loudoun County.
Regardless, Fauquier head coach Jamie Carter couldn’t have asked for more out of his defense. That defensive unit gave him more this Friday anyway.
The Falcons held their opponent to under 13 points, and this time it was more than enough as the Fauquier offense came out of its annual Week One hibernation to beat the Skyline Hawks, 30-12, on the road in Front Royal.
Fauquier finished with 336 yards of offense after amassing only 183 yards in a 14-6 loss to Loudoun County. In fact, the Falcons topped their total from last week in the first half alone, gaining 191 yards prior to the second half. That translated to a 23-6 halftime lead, an 18-point victory and some rest for the Fauquier defense.
“Great. Marvelous. Wonderful,” defensive end Ryan McCray said of the offense’s production. “Won-der-ful.”
Curiously, the Falcons have averaged only 5.8 points per game in their season-opener since 2009. In Week 2, however, they’ve averaged 34.4 points per game during that span.
“I wish I knew” why, Carter said. “That way I’d score more points Week One.”
“It was first game jitters probably,” McCray said. “I expected us [in the] first game to go out and do what we did tonight.”
The Falcons (1-1) produced a touchdown on their first possession Friday after failing to score in the first half against Loudoun County. Fauquier’s defense forced Skyline (1-1) to turn the ball over on downs to begin the game and then Todd Jordan and Spicer Sabruno combined for 39 yards to help the Falcons complete a 73-yard drive.
Jordan gave Fauquier a 7-0 lead with a 5-yard touchdown run. He finished with 83 yards on nine carries to lead the Falcons, while Sabruno had 34 yards on four carries and 33 yards on four receptions.
“He’s such a versatile kid,” Carter said of Sabruno. “I rarely call plays for a particular kid. He just ends up with the ball; ends up in good spots.”
Sabruno got seven of his eight touches in the first half, including one for an 8-yard touchdown run that gave Fauquier a 13-0 lead. He helped the Falcons finish with 235 rushing yards via their zone blocking scheme.
“We weren’t playing with good technique,” Hawks coach Heath Gilbert said of his defensive linemen. “The offensive linemen are moving lateral and if we’re not getting our hands on them, they’re [blocking] our [line]backers and it makes it tough.”
Fauquier took a 20-0 lead with 8 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the second quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Louis Heisler to receiver Marcus Campbell. That touchdown pass was the first of Heisler’s career. A junior, he threw for only 49 yards and an interception last week against Loudoun County.
Against Skyline, he threw for 101 yards and an interception on 10-for-20 passing.
“Making better reads,” Heisler said. And “last week we had a lot of pressure, so it was a lot harder to throw the ball. This week we fixed a lot of that.”
Skyline sacked Heisler only once and the junior rarely had to scramble out of the pocket.
“It’s amazing what happens when you block people,” Carter said of the offensive line.
Heisler was “a lot more poised; a lot more confident,” Carter said. “You could see the difference of hanging back in the pocket and delivering the [ball] this week.”
Fauquier’s receivers limited their drops too, which was a problem against Loudoun County. Sabruno finished that game with only six yards on one reception and one rush.
“Spicer dropped all the passes I threw to him last week,” Heisler said. “This week he caught every single one. I never lose trust in him.”
After a D.J. Helkowski 22-yard field goal ended the first half, Briar Thomas gave the Falcons a 30-6 lead with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter on a 13-yard touchdown run. He finished with 80 yards on eight carries.
“That kid – total disregard for his body,” Carter said. “His heart’s as big as he is. … Every time he touches the ball, he wants to score.”
Skyline quarterback Jerrius Baltimore scored the Hawks’ first touchdown with 3:24 left in the second quarter on a 20-yard run and later made the score 30-12 on a 30-yard pass to Jamal Parker with 1:39 remaining in the third quarter.
Filling in at quarterback for Corban Ruch, Baltimore threw for 93 yards on 8-for-15 passing and ran for 93 yards on 24 carries. Ruch left Skyline’s game last weekend against Warren County with a sternum injury, Gilbert said, and sat out Friday. So Baltimore, previously the Hawks’ starting running back, moved to quarterback.
“He’s a tough player,” said McCray, who had two-and-a-half of Fauquier’s five sacks. “We kept hitting him and hitting him and he just got right back up.
“We heard that their quarterback got injured, so we knew they might not do a lot of passing,” McCray said. “So I worked a lot on my run rushing.”
Fauquier held Skyline to 139 rushing yards on 36 carries (3.9 per carry), aided by an early injury to starting running back Gerren Butler.
“It doesn’t help,” Gilbert said of the injuries. But “there’s no excuses.”
“They’re a talented group,” he said of Fauquier’s defense. “Their box players, they look great. I love No. 15 (Heisler), the middle linebacker. He’s been getting it done for the last couple of years now and … we’ve got to deal with him again next year.”
Skyline did move the ball well at times. Along with touchdown drives of 56 and 72 yards, the Hawks moved the ball 51 yards and 97 yards on two other possessions. Fauquier did a good job of being a “bend but don’t break” defense, Carter said.
“We still have a couple possessions I thought we could turn into touchdowns – like there at the end,” Gilbert said.
On their first possession of the fourth quarter, Skyline moved the ball from their own 2-yard line all the way to Fauquier’s 1-yard line. The Hawks ran 17 plays over more than eight minutes, but didn’t score because McCray got a strip sack of Baltimore to end the threat.
“My motivation was get my unit off the field,” McCray said. “I’m not going to lie. I was a little winded. I was thinking, ‘It’s time for me to get off this field. What can I do?’”
“He was cocking the ball back to throw it,” McCray said. “I dived and destroyed his arm basically.”
The Hawks actually had only 51 yards of total offense on that final drive. They spanned half the field thanks to 50 Fauquier penalty yards on four personal fouls.
“The personal fouls are products of being aggressive and being physical,” Carter said. “We can definitely live without them, but I’m not going to dial down our kids’ intensity.”
The Falcons finished with nine tackles-for-loss. Donovan Porter led them with 10 total tackles, while Heisler had eight and Marcus Smith had seven.
“I don’t think any quarterback wants to go against our D-line,” Heisler said.
“We play against them on scout team in practice,” Jordan said of Fauquier’s defense. “They’re killers.”
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