By Owen Gotimer
Ashburn (August 27, 2016) – The Briar Woods High School football team looked to avenge a last-minute loss to Tuscarora High School last season, as two perennial football powerhouses met to start their seasons for the second straight year on August 26 in Ashburn. A trio of seniors made sure the Falcons’ offense crossed the goal line more times than the Huskies’. Receiver Ben Maffe scored twice and quarterbacks Skyler Springs and Jalen Thomas each scored once as Briar Woods upended Tuscarora, 21-0, to defend their home turf and get revenge.
“It’s huge. We only sang that [victory]song one time last year,” Maffe said. “To get this in the beginning of the season against a team that beat us last year, last-minute, felt amazing.”
After shaking hands with the Huskies, Maffe and the Falcons headed over to the home stands where they and the marching band sang the Briar Woods’ victory song. Just minutes later, Maffe made a phone call to Briar Woods head coach Charlie Pierce, who missed the season opener because of a family matter.
“The kids had a little extra motivation with coach Pierce not being here this week,” Briar Woods offensive coordinator Jared Develli said. “They’re a really good team. They’re very well coached. We knew we were going to be in for a dog fight. I thought we played well. We did everything we needed to do. I was happy with our performance.”
The Falcons turned in big play after big play starting late in the first quarter when Briar Woods senior running back Jake Kleifges broke free for a first down and a 46-yard pick up. The end of the first quarter, a change of sides and a fourth-down conversion later, Maffe carried in the Falcons’ first touchdown of the game from six yards out.
“Size and speed wise, we’ve been running that in practice for four weeks, ever since we started. We know in that situation we need to get the first down,” Maffe said. “We have 800 pounds on that side of the ball, we just need to carry on and get that first down every time.”
The Huskies seemed to answer less than 20 seconds later as Tuscarora junior receiver Joe Morein took an end around over 60 yards to the house. But a holding call erased the Huskies’ touchdown and the Falcons’ defense erased any hopes of a successful Tuscarora drive.
As the first half clock wound down, Briar Woods once again found themselves in a fourth-and-short situation in Tuscarora territory. Instead of handing the ball off to Maffe this time, Springs went to the air and found Maffe, who not only converted on the first down, but also broke a tackle and found the end zone.
“When I get in trouble I throw him the ball, and he makes the play,” Springs said. “After that fourth-down completion, where Ben broke a tackle and scored, I knew we had solidified how the game was going to go.”
Less than 365 days ago, the Falcons took a lead into halftime in their season opener against the Huskies, before then-Tuscarora senior quarterback Daniel Smith drove down the field before scoring and ultimately winning the game late in the fourth quarter.
Briar Woods would not let that happen again this year.
After Tuscarora forced a Briar Woods turnover, the Falcons’ special teams came up big recovering the muffed punt inside the Huskies’ 10-yard line. Two plays later Thomas walked through a massive hole created by his offensive line to give Briar Woods a three-score lead.
“We harp special teams; we do it more than any high school team, I know that for a fact. It’s not even close,” Develli said. “They muffed a punt, and we got on it. It’s big. It’s a momentum changer.”
— LoCoSports (@LoCoSports) August 27, 2016
The Falcons maintained momentum throughout the rest of the match up as they put win No. 1 in the books.
“We have a tough schedule. It’s one game at a time, but the schedule does not get any easier,” Develli said. “We’re going to get ready for South County next week and try to get done what we need to get done against them.”
2Q 11:32 BW Ben Maffe 6-yard TD run (Moreno PAT)
2Q 4:24 BW Skyler Springs to Ben Maffe 20-yard TD pass (Moreno PAT)
3Q 5:12 BW Jalen Thomas 5-yard TD run (Moreno PAT)