Mason’s Noble Scores 92-Yard Touchdown
By Drew Costley
According to Tony Green, head coach of George Mason High School’s varsity football team, there are five or six big plays that determine the outcome of every game. Two big, back-to-back plays turned the momentum early on in George Mason’s 42-26 win over William Monroe High School last Friday.
The Mustangs (5-3, 4-2) scored the first touchdown of the game on a 20-yard pass from senior quarterback Grant Hagler to junior wide receiver Alfonso Banks and the Dragons (2-6, 2-3) looked poised to even the score on the ensuing drive.
William Monroe marched 55 yards down the field to the Mustangs’ 10-yard line. Then, after they lost 3 yards on two consecutive plays, faced a fourth-and-eight situation on the Mustangs’ 13-yard line. On that play, Dragon sophomore quarterback Tyler Trevillian threw a pass that was intercepted by senior safety Nathaniel Ward at the 3-yard line.
“Football is all about momentum,” Ward said. “And I think that really just changed the momentum of the game.” Ward ran the ball 5 yards before being tackled.
On the Mustangs’ first play after Ward’s interception, sophomore running back D’Montae Noble found a hole on the right side of the line of scrimmage, which looked to be a modest gain at first. But then Noble broke a tackle, followed a few down-field blocks, ran from the right side of the field to the left, and scampered down field for a 92-yard touchdown.
“I just want to say thank you to my linemen and Connor [Rhodes] with that lead block,” Noble said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere.”
The Dragons weren’t able to get much going offensively in the first half after those two plays. A fumble by Hagler that was recovered by junior linebacker Tylek Burley in the first quarter gave the Dragons a chance to get back in the game.
But the drive following the fumble recovery shorted out and the snap on the fourth down punt was bobbled, leading to a punt that only went to the Dragons’ 27-yard line. Noble ran those 27 yards for a touchdown on the first play after that punt.
Another punt blunder, this time a fumbled snap by junior Andrew Getchell, led to a 10-yard loss and turnover on downs for the Dragons. Hagler ran in a touchdown from the 5-yard line on the first play after that turnover. At halftime, the Mustangs were up 28-0.
“That was obviously a big part of them gaining their momentum,” said Mark Sanford, head coach of the Dragons. “When we make special teams gaffes like we did, that allowed them to have great field position the whole first half. So that was a killer.”
Sanford said he and the William Monroe coaching staff challenged their team not to give up in the second half, which reflected in the box score and stat sheet. The Dragons outscored the Mustangs 26-14 in the second half.
The Mustangs gained 239 yards of total offense in the first half while the Dragons’ gained 123. In the second half, the Dragons gained 346 yards of total offense to the Mustangs’ 151.
A contributing factor to the Mustangs’ defensive faltering in the second half was the loss of two defensive starters – senior defensive end/fullback Connor Rhodes and sophomore linebacker/running back Hunter Sulc. Rhodes left with an ankle injury in the third quarter and Sulc left with a knee injury in the fourth quarter. Another factor, members of the team admitted, was poor tackling.
“I think as the game went on we kept getting little minor injuries and it was affecting us … and it was not good to see us not tackling as well,” Green said. “But sometimes, when you’re a high school football team and you get up big like that, sometimes they think its over.”
Although the Mustangs were up 35-0 before the Dragons got their first score, it wasn’t over. Actually, the last play of the game was a 15-yard touchdown pass from Trevillian to junior running back Cody Perkins.
Trevillian completed 15 of 26 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns. Perkins ran for 244 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries and caught four passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. Senior wide receiver Johnnie Villers caught five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown and junior tight end Satchel Knight caught three passes for 41 yards and a touchdown.
Noble ran for 218 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries. Hagler completed six of eight passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 25 yards and a touchdown on five carries. Banks caught five passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
As a result of their win against the Dragons, the Mustangs are a near mathematical lock in the Virginia High School League ratings that determine the teams that make the postseason in football.
The Mustangs travel to Clarke County High School (8-0, 3-0) on Friday to play the Eagles.