By Drew Costley
Mental errors got the best of George Mason High School’s varsity football team last Thursday in a 41-34 loss to Wakefield High School. While the loss made the Mustangs’ record 1-1 for the season, the Warriors are now 2-0 for the first time since 1986.
“We had some mental errors and gave them big plays, but also they had some mental errors and gave us big plays,” said Mustang Head Coach Tony Green. “You know when you have a chance there at the end to tie this football game, that’s all you can ask.”
Senior quarterback Grant Hagler found junior wide receiver Alfonso Banks from 18 yards out for a touchdown with a little more than a minute left in the game to bring the score to 41-32. Then Hagler converted a two-point conversion with another pass to Banks to make the score 41-34 and gave the Mustangs a chance to tie the game.
But the Warriors recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.
“I think it was a good football game. I think we had our chances to win this football game,” Green said. “And I think we kept [Wakefield] in the game sometimes.”
The Warriors harnessed the momentum of their home-field crowd early when junior quarterback Riley Wilson completed a 25-yard pass to junior wide receiver Marqua Walton for a touchdown midway through the first quarter. Thirty seconds later, sophomore Chris Robertson recovered a Mustang fumble and ran it back 10 yards for a touchdown to put the Warriors ahead 14-0.
George Mason’s sophomore running back D’Montae Noble scored the first of his three touchdowns early in the second quarter with a six-yard run to make the game 14-7. Wakefield’s sophomore running back Leon Young then scored the first of his three touchdowns a little more than four minutes later with a 15-yard run to put the Warriors ahead 21-7.
But Noble scored again two minutes later on a 50-yard run in which he broke two tackles to bring the Mustangs back within striking distance. Noble scored again with 34 seconds left in the half to bring the score to 21-20. The Mustangs were unable to convert the extra point after Hagler attempted to salvage a poor snap that sullied the field goal attempt.
“At halftime I said we’re one point down and it should be a tied football game and we made two mistakes,” Green said.
That’s one example of a George Mason error that cost them points, momentum or both. Another occurred earlier in the second quarter when junior defensive back Sam Selby dropped an interception that Wilson drilled right into chest.
The Mustangs were able to keep momentum going through that quarter, though, and were poised to take the lead six minutes into the third quarter when junior Henderson Beam missed a 35-yard field goal.
“Right at the end of the game I said mistakes are going to happen, but we’ve just got to overcome them and be bigger than them,” Green said.
The Warriors took the ball after the missed field goal and completed an 80-yard drive down the field with a touchdown run from Young that put them ahead 28-20.
Young scored again about a minute later on a 28-yard run to put the Warriors up 35-20. Hagler connected with Banks towards the end of the third quarter on a 85-yard pass that made the score 35-27.
Early in the fourth quarter Wilson found senior wide receiver Markus Boyd for a 36-yard touchdown, which gave the Warriors a 41-26 lead and a big enough lead to win the game.
Green said that despite the mental errors and mistakes, the game against the Warriors, who play in a more competitive division, was a good learning learning experience for the Mustangs.
“People don’t realize with only six seniors and all these younger kids playing that we’re going to [make mistakes],” he said after the game. “Playing a big school like this, it helps us get better.”
The Mustangs play Luray High School Friday night at home.