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Fauquier football suffers 1st defeat of Prince era with 21-6 loss to Heritage

Saturday, Sep. 5 | By Grant Thomas
Fauquier's Keion Lewis breaks several tackles during a 32-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter during Fauquier's 21-6 loss to Heritage at Falcon Field. --Photo By Doug Stroud
A few yellow flags determined the margin of victory Friday, if not the victor.

The Heritage Pride beat the Fauquier Falcons, 21-6, on the road in Warrenton, but it could have won by much more had referees not call back touchdown runs of 52 and 15 yards.

On the other hand, the Falcons (1-1) could have kept the score closer if they didn’t relinquished field position inside their 30-yard line due to two penalties on a fourth-down punt during the second quarter. The Pride (2-0) scored its third touchdown on the next play from scrimmage.

Earlier in the second quarter, a personal foul penalty erased a drive by Fauquier that featured a magnificent 30-yard run by quarterback Merritt Railey.

“When you get down in a game, things like that start to happen,” Fauquier head coach Joe Prince said of the costly penalties. “You get frustrated. You lose the ability to make things happen with big plays.”

The Prince era at Fauquier began last week with a 23-20 victory at Loudoun County. Railey, the Falcons’ quarterback and punter, took a long snap in punt formation on a pivotal fourth-down play and ran the ball 69 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

The Falcons again converted a fake punt for a first down against Heritage, but they went three-and out afterward, so special teams play couldn’t boost Fauquier to victory Friday. The Falcons, in fact, punted six times.

Plus, they lost two fumbles.

“They just whipped us up front,” Prince said of the Wolverines' linemen versus the Falcons' linemen. “I didn’t have us prepared enough. We had a handful of plays that were one change away from being huge gains for us. Some games end up like that.”

Railey threw for 40 yards (4-for-7) and rushed for 75, but the Falcons weren’t able to take advantage of his excellence in Prince’s triple option system. Heritage shut down outside runs and deep passing routes, forcing the Falcons into one-dimensional play calling.

“They were very physical and disciplined,” Railey said of the Pride’s defense. “Most of the time they stayed tight to their gaps and played great press on our receivers. It was tough.”

While the Falcons protected the ball for the majority of the second half, Heritage did most of its damage with a one-man rushing attack in the first and second quarters. Senior back Mitch Westbrook torched Fauquier for 85 yards on 16 carries in just the first half. He ran five times for 32 yards during the Pride’s opening scoring drive, setting up a 12-yard touchdown run by quarterback Alex Carlin (5 carries, 27 yards, 1 touchdown).

With Heritage leading 7-0 in the second quarter, the Pride used an eight-play, 54-yard drive to reach the Falcons’ 13-yard line. Then Heritage head coach Reed Prosser called for a right-sideline fade to senior receiver Cole Miller (4 catches, 75 yards). Fauquier’s defender jumped too early and a referee called him for pass interference.

On the next play, Westbrook gave the Pride a 14-0 lead with a 1-yard run.

“There’s a lot of ways to win a football game,” Prosser said. “Last week, we just outscored the other team. This week, we had to grind it out and take what was given to us. I’m proud of how our guys competed.”

Westbrook finished with 25 carries for 146 yards. The senior gained just under 6 yards per attempt and had seven runs for over 10 yards.

“Mitch isn’t your prototypical running back,” Prosser said, “but he’s an exceptional player.”

At 5-foot-11, 165 pounds, Westbrook has to find a hole quickly, burst through it and search for daylight. Prosser focused on running him outside the guards to avoid the tight spaces up the middle.

“I had great downfield blocking,” Westbrook said. “Our guys really did a great job getting out ahead of me and focusing on their assignments. That’s a big part of getting those long gains that we needed.”

Later in the second quarter, a three inadequate plays by Fauquier inside its own 20-yard line made little room for Railey to punt. Two penalties pushed him to the back of the end zone and his punt went out of bounds at Fauquier’s 23-yard line as a result.

Heritage quarterback Alex Carlin (5 of 9 for 98 yards and one touchdown) immediately found 205-pound tight end Darick Edmond running a short slant route on the next play. Edmond caught the pass at the 10-yard line and proceeded to carry four defenders with him all the way to the end zone.

The bullish play gave the Pride a 21-0 advantage at halftime.

“When the lineman block well as I roll out, putting it on the money for my receivers is all I’ve got to do,” Carlin said.

Fauquier was finally able to penetrate inside the Heritage 40-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

Railey kick-started a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 27-yard rush. Backup running back then added a 10-yard run.

With a first down at the Pride’s 32-yard line, Lewis carried the ball up the middle for a touchdown.

“They had the middle wide open because they had to respect the outside pitch,” Railey said. “We were able to use that and run straight up the gut. It wasn’t enough the rest of the game though.”

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