The Kettle Run Cougars got an unfortunate lesson in Murphy’s Law on Friday night.
Everything went wrong for them when hosting Millbrook for a football game that turned into a lopsided 55-27 win for the Pioneers (3-1) and sank Kettle Run’s record to 0-3.
In a span of just 32 seconds during the first quarter, Millbrook scored three touchdowns to suddenly and dramatically put victory out of reach for the Cougars, who have three consecutive losses for the first time since 2016, when they last missed the region playoffs.
“We aren’t going to change the score of tonight’s game so we need to move forward,” Kettle Run coach Charlie Porterfield said.
“Every game we are finding pieces. Hopefully next week we can get them all in the right spots and get a win,” he said. “There were some bright spots tonight.”
With 2 minutes, 22 seconds left in the opening period, the Pioneers’ Gavin Evosirch scored his second of six touchdowns in the game, crossing the goal line on a 30-yard screen pass from quarterback Kaden Buza. Nine seconds later, after a special teams gaffe backed the Cougars up to their own 2-yard line, Kettle Run botched an exchange in their own end zone and the Pioneers’ Travis Spain recovered the ball to put the Pioneers up 21-0.
Twenty-three seconds after that, another Kettle Run fumble led to a 4-yard touchdown pass from Buza to Diante Ball for a 28-0 Millbrook lead. Later, shortly into the second quarter, Millbrook sophomore Aidan Long intercepted a Trevor Yergey pass to set up a pair of Evosirch short-range touchdowns for a 41-7 halftime lead.
“It was very important to jump out on them,” Evosirch said. “They beat us last year and ended our season. We weren’t going to let that happen” without revenge.
The Cougars beat the Pioneers twice last season, including a 21-14 win in double overtime of the Class 4 Region C quarterfinals to end Millbrook’s season.
“I thought our kids came out with a chip on their shoulder and wanted to play football,” Millbrook head coach Josh Haymore said of the rematch Friday.
Despite a lackluster first-half performance that left the Cougars with an insurmountable deficit, they responded to an extent in the second half. With a young squad that is missing most of the cogs that led the Cougars to the region playoffs in 2018 and 2017, Kettle Run scored 20 points in the second half Friday.
“My message to them at halftime is that there was nothing we could do at this point,” Porterfield said. “In the second half I thought we looked like the team we should look like. … I was pretty pleased.”
Brandon Strickland led the Cougars with 139 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, while Elijah Chumley had 80 yards passing and Jacob Robinson had 53 yards on six catches. They helped Kettle Run outscore the Pioneers 20-7 over the final 10 minutes after Millbrook had effectively clinched the victory.
“In a year like this I think coming out the way we did in the second half is probably one of the most pivotal things we could have done,” Porterfield said. “This is a year when things might not be going our way in every game and to see the kids have some heart when a lot of people would have just quit is very important.
“The energy on the sidelines was up and we did well,” Porterfield said. “This is probably the best I have felt after a game this year because of how we responded to adversity.”
Even in the final moments, the Cougars persevered. As fans filed out of the stadium, junior wide receiver A.J. Williams took a handoff 82 yards for a touchdown with just 42.4 seconds left.
Regardless, Kettle Run’s late push couldn’t overcome the balanced offense that Millbrook showed early. Buza finished the night 11-for-13 with 228 yards and three touchdowns while Evosirch accumulated 205 yards (111 rushing, 94 receiving) with three rushing touchdowns, as well as a receiving touchdown on each of his three catches.
So Millbrook won its second consecutive game after losing in Week Two to Loudoun County, 27-18.
“Playing Loudoun County we looked really soft on film,” Haymore said. “I challenged the guys and we could either prove that we were soft or we could prove that we are a physical football team.
“I think the past two weeks we have proved that we are a physical team,” he said.
The Cougars, meanwhile, not only lost Friday, they also couldn’t reload the medical cart fast enough. So they could show some ill effects next week against James Wood.