Prince William News
Sun., Oct. 28 - North Stafford delivered a gut-punch to the Bobcats on Friday night in Haymarket, pulling out a 21-14 overtime victory clinched on an interception near the Wolverines' goal line.
Bobcats fall 21-14 in OT to Wolverines
© Gainesville TimesThe Battlefield varsity football team last lost at least three games in the regular season six years ago.
Finishing the season at 4-6, the 2006 team did not make the playoffs.
Now, for the first time since then, the big question in Dominion Valley isn't what happens "when" Battlefield makes the post-season.
North Stafford delivered a gut-punch to the Bobcats on Friday night in Haymarket, pulling out a 21-14 overtime victory clinched on an interception near the Wolverines' goal line.
What truly stung for the home team is that it didn't just lose a game that could have boosted the team in the power points ratings and likely clinched a post-season berth.
It marked the first time in six years the purple-and-black lost at homecoming.
For the sake of pride alone, that just hurts.
The Wolverines' defense largely contained Battlefield's rushing attack by limiting the Bobcats' ground game to 81 yards on 29 carries.
Battlefield quarterback Ryan Swingle made up for it with a career day throwing, completing 15 out of 24 passes for 302 yards, according to statistics provided by Battlefield.
That included a nine-yard touchdown throw to Nick Newman (6 catches, 101 yards) in the second quarter that tied the game at 7-7 after Connor Feehan's extra point.
North Stafford's Kwesie Dadzie broke the plane with 4:33 to go in the first quarter on a 2-yard rushing touchdown to put the Wolverines out on top.
Defensively, Battlefield held tough throughout the second half but left a 21-yard touchdown pass from Jalen Sarratt to wide receiver Brandon Ravenel slip in the final minute before halftime.
Swingle responded with a 40-yard bomb to sophomore Corey Parker (4 catches, 89 yards) three minutes into the third quarter, setting up senior running back Austin Thibodeaux for a 2-yard score on the next play.
Feehan's second extra point of the night tied the game once again, this time at 14-14.
Both teams blew opportunities to take the lead during the second half.
At the end of the third quarter, North Stafford's Anthony Shegog high-stepped his way to a 31-yard gain that put the Wolverines down to the Battlefield 11-yard-line to open the fourth quarter.
On second-and-10, Sarratt rolled to his right but threw the ball out of bounds. The same thing then happened on third down, only to his left side.
Settling for a chip-shot field goal, Battlefield lineman Jack Taylor burst threw the line and the ball hit one of the BHS defenders in the chest, rolling off to the left and picked up by Parker as it spun like a top around the 5-yard-line.
Battlefield started its next drive at its own 11-yard-line with 11 minutes to go in regulation.
Swingle converted three third downs during the next eight minutes, including a 28-yard pick-up on a third-and-27 launch to Newman in traffic that put the ball down at the North Stafford 13-yard line.
Thibodeaux picked up a quick five yards and tight end Brandon Whaley's haul one yard away from the end zone set up Battlefield with what appeared to a sure-shot at taking its first lead of the game.
Instead, the Bobcats became their own worst enemy.
Referees threw the flag on Battlefield's offense for an offside call and a delay of game penalty that backed the home team to the 13-yard-line
That's when Swingle rocketed a pass to Whaley (4 catches, 109 yards) that first bounced off of his intended receiver, then bounced off a North Stafford defender and fell into the hands of defensive back Von Purvis, killing the Bobcats' 80-yard drive with nothing to show for it but an interception.
North Stafford and Battlefield traded punts to close the fourth quarter.
Overtime games for Virginia high school teams require each team to have a shot at offense.
The ball is placed on the opponent's 10-yard-line, setting up first-and-goal for whichever team has possession.
Battlefield won the coin toss but opted to play defense, that way the offense would know exactly how many points it would need to score to win versus how many to tie.
It turned out the home team would need seven points after Shegog took a handoff, cut to his right and then his left, falling over the white chalk at the end zone for a touchdown.
A successful extra point forced Battlefield into a situation where it must score a TD of its own to extend the overtime period.
Tyler Bailey tackled Thibodeaux at the 6-yard-line on a first down rush.
Battlefield then decided to go with a pass on the right side.
What Swingle didn't count on was Joey Slye.
"I was just watching his eyes," said the North Stafford linebacker.
Slye explained that his coach told him before the play, "If you see it, jump the route."
That's exactly what the junior did as he read Swingle pass, ran up past the receiver and snagged the ball out of midair, running a few yards along the North Stafford sidelines before sliding to the ground, ending Battlefield's hopes for victory with another interception.
"It was just a tough night and we didn't execute our game plan like we wanted to," said the Bobcats' Parker.
Any chance BHS had of winning the Cedar Run District evaporated during the last two weeks as undefeated Stonewall Jackson (9-0) toppled Osboun (5-5) and Broad Run (4-5) to close out its district schedule with a perfect 5-0 record, granting the Raiders their first trip to the Northwest Regional tournament since 2004.
Battlefield's only district loss of the year came against Stonewall on Sept. 28 in Manassas.
As for the rest of the district, Osbourn completed its regular season at 5-5, including a 1-3 mark inside the district.
Broad Run lost two district games this season and Freedom (South Riding) is winless in the district.
Patriot is not technically eligible for the post-season as the first-year varsity team did not play Osbourn during the regular season.
The Pioneers are also 3-6 with only one district win anyway.
When asked whether his team's final regular season game against Patriot next week is a must-win, do or die match, Cox immediately, if not instinctively, said no.
He then paused, thought about it for a second, and corrected himself.
"It is do or die because we won't want to put out fate in somebody else's hands," said Cox.
One thing on Battlefield's side when it comes to tabulating power points is that its three losses came against teams with a combined three losses of their own this year: Hylton (7-2), Stonewall and North Stafford.
Of course, Potomac defeating Hylton 27-21 in overtime on Friday night did not help matters as far as Battlefield's concerned.
What should concern Battlefield about Patriot is that the team is not as much of a walk-over as its sub-.500 record suggests.
Just ask Stonewall Jackson.
The Raiders won all but two games by double digits this year.
Those other two games both happened to be decided by four point spreads that involved last-minute Raider comebacks to pull out come-from-behind victories in Manassas.
The two opponents?
Battlefield and Patriot.
Playing its final season of the game regardless of the outcome, Patriot also has nothing to lose entering the Bobcats' home turf in Haymarket this Friday night.
"We definitely (have) got to win that game if we want to be a playoff team and we're going to do that," said the Battlefield lineman Taylor.
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.