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Pioneers mount comeback in first varsity football win

Around here, Red Nation isn't just a Washington Capitals thing.

It's also the rallying cry for Patriot High School.

Playing in front of a standing room-only crowd with so many red shirts that even Ovi would have to blush, the Pioneers defeated Brooke Point at home in Nokesville on Friday night 38-27.

Most important for Patriot, the game marked the school's first-ever varsity home game and first-ever varsity victory following a 42-14 road drubbing against Briar Woods the prior week.

"We needed this game," said senior running back Malik Fuller, the team's leading rusher on the night with more than 100 yards.

"It's exciting, it was just a a great moment," added his backfield teammate Vic Ceglie, who led the charge with two touchdowns in the first quarter and another in the second.

The two teams combined for five touchdowns during the first 12 minutes, with Brooke Point taking a quick lead on a 52-yard run by running back Johnathan Horsley.

That happened just 63 seconds into the first quarter, forcing Patriot to respond with a seven-play, 80-yard drive.

Ceglie capped it with a two-yard run into the end zone to knot the score at 7-7 after an extra point by kicker Jameson Corcoran.

The junior running back explained that both of his early scores came as a result of I-formation "23" set-up that had him lowering his shoulder behind senior fullback Lovedeep Singh.

"I saw Lovedeep, he took out the linebackers and I saw a huge hole," said Ceglie.

Meanwhile, Ceglie mentioned that Brooke Point had a "strong defensive line but our offensive line was a big factor in this game."

With 6:32 still on the clock, Black Hawks quarterback Alex Cox connected with Aaron Sanders on a 28-yard touchdown pass a little over two minutes later but a botched extra point put the score at 13-7.

Patriot snagged its first lead of the game after Ceglie's second trip over the plane into the end zone with a four-yard run 1:15 later.

Just before time expired in the first quarter, sophomore quarterback Cody Agnew connected with senior wide receiver Zak Watson for a touchdown pass, giving the Pioneers a double-digit lead heading into the second quarter.

Agnew said he saw the middle of the field was "wide open" as Watson ran his route.

Cox responded in a big way during the second quarter with two touchdown throws to all-state wide receiver Tyus White Jr. that tallied a combined 110 passing yards.

The first one, a 57-yard bomb, came 58 seconds into the quarter and the score registered at the 7:03 mark.

Sandwiched between them came Ceglie's third touchdown, this time on another two-yard run.

Patriot held a 28-27 lead in the final two minutes before half time as Agnew appeared to be struggling from center.

He threw a back-to-back incomplete passes that skipped off the ground, setting up a third-and-10 from the 13-yard-line with just under 40 second remaining.

That's when he rolled out to his right side and lobbed a pass to the sophomore wide receiver Nick Mathews deep in the end zone.

Mathews put his hands up over his head as he darted to his left side and kept at least one foot in bounds as he plucked the ball out from between two defenders, bringing the Pioneer faithful to their feet.

"He's got a very nice arm (and) good rotation," said Ceglie about his quarterback.

He mentioned that the sophomore is still coming around on his decision-making, such as deciding when to launch a deep shot versus a shorter one, something echoed by head coach Brud Bicknell.

"Some of that, the inconsistency, comes from being young and inexperienced," said Bicknell.

However, he added that his sophomore QB "had poise in the pocket" and threw from a position of power against Brooke Point compared to throwing off his back foot against Briar Woods.

During the second half, neither team scored another touchdown and both turned the ball over, including back-to-back-to-back interceptions in the fourth quarter.

Patriot instead relied on Fuller to eat up the clock with several rushes.

He explained that Patriot's offensive idea was to "run the ball down their throat."

"Coach told us to leave everything on the field," he said.

At half time, "I just told 'em it was going to be a gut-check in the second half," added Bicknell.

Overall, Bicknell said, "it's a great way to start things at home and (I) hope that (the fans) keep coming back here."
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