Kettle Run outlasts Fauquier in double overtime of wet, muddy football game
Kettle Run's De Jackson finishes a 10-yard touchdown run to beat Fauquier, 18-15, in double overtime Friday. --Photo by Rick Wasser
After an hour and 40 minutes of playing through persistent rain, occasional wind and omnipresent mud Friday, De Jackson hoped only to avoid fumbling during the second overtime period.
But when he took a handoff on third-and-10, he surprised even himself by finding good enough footing and open space to run 10 yards for a touchdown, giving Kettle Run an unorthodox 18-15 double overtime win over host Fauquier at Falcon Field.
"I wasn't expecting to score at all," Jackson said after the incredible game. "I was thinking, 'Just hold onto the ball.'"
The Cougars and Falcons combined for 10 fumbles (five lost) and plenty other weather-induced mishaps, such as a negative-eight yard punt, two interceptions, a safety, a blocked punt, three missed field goals and a missed extra point.
Given that backdrop and his team down 15-12, Jackson clamped his arms around the ball and proceeded carefully. He bounced outside on a run designed for the inside, and got a huge break.
The field conditions, which favored both defenses all night, finally assisted an offensive player.
Jackson saw that a Fauquier cornerback had slipped, opening up a path to the right corner of the end zone. "I knew I was going to get in as soon as I bounced outside," Jackson said, wearing a brown uniform that began the game white.
The Cougars built a 12-3 third quarter lead thanks to some great special teams play. They appeared to lock up victory when Falcons kicker D.J. Helkowski missed a challenging 44-yard field goal with 3:13 remaining in the fourth quarter, but then Fauquier went on an unlikely 9-0 run to tie the game, 12-12, and force overtime.
"I've played as a head coach in five state semifinal games, and tonight ranks up there with any win," Kettle Run coach Jeff Lloyd said of surviving that Fauquier rally.
The Cougars began the first overtime with possession at the 10, but on fourth-and-5, kicker Evan Szklennik missed a 24-yard field goal, wide left.
That set up Helkowski with a 30-yard field goal on third-and-13 after Jackson blew up a running play for a 5-yard loss during the Falcons' overtime possession from the 10-yard line. But Helkowski missed wide right, pushing the game to a second overtime period.
"We caught a break," Lloyd said of a miss by the usually sure-footed kicker. "The likelihood of that kid missing is not real good."
"It looked so bad" for Kettle Run late in the fourth and in overtime, Lloyd said. "Especially with what happened here a year ago."
Last season, Kettle Run lost to Fauquier, 17-10 in overtime, with the Falcons scoring a touchdown in the extra period and then forcing the Cougars into a fourth-and-36 interception.
"Instant deja vu," Jackson said of ending regulation in a tie again this season. "I was like, 'Man, this can't happen again.'"
In the second overtime period Friday, Fauquier threw three incomplete passes on their possession from the 10-yard line, but Helkowski gave the Falcons a 15-12 lead by making a 28-yard field goal.
So the Cougars took possession needing at least a field goal. They failed to gain a yard on consecutive run plays – unsurprising as the Falcons held the Kettle Run to 116 yards of offense, all rushing. However, then Jackson made good on his 29th carry of the night, scoring the winning touchdown to finish with 104 rushing yards.
"All week I told our kids that if we stood toe-to-toe and stared down the barrel of that gun and took [the Cougars] the distance, that we would win," Carter said. "They made a liar out of me."
The Fauquier offense actually out-gained Kettle Run, 195-116, and the Falcons won the turnover battle, 5-2.
The weather, however, seemed to negate those statistics, which usually can predict a winner.
"What do you say to a team after something like that?” Carter said. "I'm so, so proud of them; the way they fought."
With Fauquier trailing 12-3 and less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Cougars lost a fumble on a handoff exchange between Jackson and quarterback Denzel Champion (0-for-4 passing), giving the Falcons possession at the Kettle Run 19, and some hope with 2:20 remaining.
Fauquier quarterback Louis Heisler (3-for-21, 68 yards) had completed only one pass in the first 46 minutes, but on second-and-4 from the 13-yard line, he lofted a ball to Spicer Sabruno on a fade route in the back left corner of the end zone.
Sabruno made a diving catch that was miraculous considering the weather.
"There's no way he's going to catch that," Jackson said of his thoughts during the pass. "But he made a great play."
"Pretty damn shocked. It was a hell of a catch," Lloyd said. "I know we couldn't complete one [pass] tonight."
Helkowski missed the ensuing extra point off the right post, making the Cougars' lead 12-9.
Kettle Run recovered Fauquier's onside kick, but Champion fumbled two plays later as he tried to fight for extra yardage with only 1:29 remaining in regulation.
"If I had it to do over again I probably would have taken three knees and punted," Lloyd said.
Instead, the Cougars' coach ran one more rushing play, hoping to burn extra seconds off the clock.
It backfired with the fumble.
"I was doing math – and I suck at math; that's why I teach history – and the best we could do was [leave Fauquier] 20-something seconds" with kneel-downs, he said. "That wasn't good enough. … All I wanted was one more play."
Kettle Run also committed a personal foul after the lost fumble, giving Fauquier possession on the Cougars' 45-yard line.
Heisler then completed his second pass of the game – a 37-yarder to Sabruno (50 yards on two receptions).
"I was questioning myself if I was stupid, or if I should be coaching football, calling some of those passes" with the weather, Carter said. "But I really believed in our kids."
An additional face mask penalty gave Fauquier the ball on the 4-yard line with 1:21 remaining and a chance to take the lead.
However, Jackson blew up another play in the backfield, tackling running back Todd Jordan (game-high 104 yards on 17 carries) for a six-yard loss, which forced Helkowski to run onto the field and kick a 26-yard field goal with 30.3 seconds remaining.
Helkowski's kick tied it 12-12 and forced overtime.
Kettle Run began the scoring in the first quarter with a 37-yard field goal by Szklennik, who set it up by intercepting a Heisler pass and returning the ball 27 yards.
Szklennik tied a Kettle Run record with 14 career interceptions and three consecutive games with at least one interception.
Helkowski countered for Fauquier with a 24-yard field goal with 10:36 remaining in the second period, as the teams headed to intermission 3-3.
The Cougars took a 5-3 lead with 9:46 left in the third quarter on a safety caused by a snap over Helkowski's head during a punt from the end zone.
Danny Mattson blocked Helkowski's next punt and Christian Yancey recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown that gave Kettle Run a 12-3 lead.
Fauquier averaged only 3.3 yards per rush and 3.2 yards per pass attempt, but that easily outpaced Kettle Run’s 2.6 yards per rush and zero yards per pass attempt.
“In my life around football – which is when I came out of the womb – I've never seen a more gutsy defensive performance by anybody,” Carter said of the Falcons.
The Cougars managed only one offensive play of more than seven yards prior to Jackson's winning touchdown run in the second overtime period.
"Their defensive ends, they're just animals,” Lloyd said. “We had our hands full all night.”
Fauquier, meanwhile, left empty handed despite its proud defensive effort and unlikely fourth quarter comeback.
- - - - -
Kettle Run 18
KRHS 3 0 9 0 0 6 – 18
FHS 0 3 0 9 0 3 – 15
KRHS: Evan Szklennik 37 field goal, 2:44.
FHS: D.J. Helkowski 24 field goal, 10:36.
KRHS: Safety, 9:46.
KRHS: Christian Yancey blocked punt recovery (Szklennik kick), 5:30.
FHS: Spicer Sabruno 13 pass from Louis Heisler (kick failed), 1:47.
FHS: Helkowski 26 field goal, 0:30.3.
FHS: Helkowski 28 field goal.
KRHS: De Jackson 10 run.
KRHS: Jackson 29-104, Denzel Champion 11-7, David Eldridge 1-3, Bobby Hix 1-3, Austin Lewis 2-(-1).
FHS: Todd Jordan 17-104, Heisler 15-19, Leif Heltzel 1-10, Keion Lewis 2-2, Briar Thomas 1-0, Sabruno 3-(-4).
KRHS: Champion 0-4-1 0.
FHS: Heisler 3-21-1 68.
FHS: Sabruno 2-50, Jordan 1-18.
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