After putting together a solid first three quarters on Friday night, the McLean High School Highlanders lost 21-14 to the Washington & Lee High School Generals, faltering in the grit of the fourth quarter that allowed the Generals to score the lone touchdown of the final period.
The 10-yard scamper by Generals’ quarterback Charles Fuller with 17 seconds left broke a 14-14 tie, and proved to be the game winner. The touchdown silenced a home crowd that had been anxiously awaiting their team’s first win of the season.
Fuller was a one-man wrecking crew for the Generals, making several game-changing plays. He accounted for all three Generals touchdowns, and also picked off a pass in the first quarter. Fuller is a strong, dual-threat quarterback and does nothing but create headaches for defenses. He beat the McLean defense for big plays several times, scoring on touchdown runs of 10 and 33 yards, and also throwing one for 30. He also made several big plays on the other side of the ball in the secondary, keeping McLean quarterback William Hecht off balance for much of the night.
The McLean defense played a smart, disciplined game for the most part, only allowing Fuller to create a few big plays. The same defense that had given up a whopping 115 points in its first three games surrendered a mere 21 to Fuller, one of the most explosive players in the area. Despite allowing nearly 400 yards of total offense, McLean’s defense stepped up when they had their backs against the wall for the majority of the game until their bend turned into a break with 17 seconds to go in the game.
The McLean offense, however, continued to have issues moving the ball on a consistent basis. After jumping out to a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter, they were unable to find any holes in the tight Generals defense the rest of the game.
Throughout the entire 48 minutes, the offense was only able to generate 7 points, as the only other touchdown for McLean came on an 85-yard kick return for a touchdown in the third quarter following Washington & Lee’s second touchdown of the evening.
McLean’s normally prolific passing game was shut down all night by a swarming Generals secondary. Hecht was out of sync with his receivers all game, getting intercepted twice. Plagued by turnovers, and stagnant running and passing attacks, the offense put a great deal of unwanted pressure on the McLean defense – pressure with which the defense would ultimately not be able to cope.
The overall record for McLean fell to 0-4 with the loss. However, while they are still winless under first-year Head Coach James Patrick, the team has made vast improvements in each game on both sides of the ball. After suffering a 30-point spanking by Annandale in their home opener, and a loss to a J.E.B. Stuart team that had not won for 24 straight games, the Highlanders began to tighten things up right before they go headfirst into district play.
McLean hits the road for the next two weeks in search of their first district win, traveling on Sept. 26 to Stone Bridge High School before a cross-town battle against the Marshall Statesmen the following Friday.