Aldie, Va. — A cool late-summer night, a crosstown rivalry, and six lead changes were just about as much as the nearly 5,000 fans could ask for as the John Champe High School Knights made the less than two mile trip down Braddock Road for their first ever varsity football match up with rival Lightridge High School.
The Lightning struck first, but the Knights proved victorious as John Champe overcame some offensive woes and got a 32-yard field goal off the foot of senior kicker Omar Ebadi with 64 seconds to play to outlast Lightridge, 24-22, on August 31 in Aldie.
“We knew we had to overcome the first wave of emotions. Lightridge bared down and was able to make some stops, and they made it a hard fought game,” John Champe head coach Lee Carter said. “The good thing is there are three phases to a football game, and we feel like we won the special teams battle, and defensively, we played good enough to win.”
Lightridge got on the board first when senior quarterback Carter Working threw a strike to junior receiver Al Honesty for a 15-yard touchdown. The Lightning, however, missed the extra point as they took the 6-0 lead.
On the ensuing John Champe possession, Lightridge forced a three-and-out as the Lightning got the ball back late in the first quarter. The third Lightridge drive of the night proved uneventful as the Lightning were forced to punt for the second time in the game, but this time John Champe junior punt returner Cooper Fitzgerald had other plans as he returned the punt 53 yards for a touchdown to tie the game up at 6-6. Then, Ebadi stepped up and drilled the extra point as the Knights took their first lead of the game, 7-6.
Midway through the second quarter, Lightridge retook the lead as senior receiver Josiah Dorsey carried the ball in from three yards out to put the Lightning up 13-7.
That lead was even shorter lived than the first as John Chame senior athlete Greg Spiller broke free on the first play of the ensuing drive for 69 yards down to the Lightridge 11 yard line. Three plays later, John Champe junior quarterback Duran Hovan hit senior athlete Michael Clark with a 16-yard touchdown pass as the Knights took a 14-13 lead.
On the very next kickoff, John Champe kicked a short ball to the sideline which was initially knocked around by a John Champe player before an inadvertent whistle ended the play before either team had the opportunity to recover the ball. The referees ordered a re-kick which was successfully recovered by the Lightning.
Another three-and-out gave the Knights the ball back with limited time to play in the first half, and after driving down to the 8 yard line, Ebadi missed a 25-yard field goal attempt, sending the game into halftime with John Champe leading, 14-13.
On the second play of the third quarter, Honesty made his second big play of the night as he picked off Hovan to give the Lightning the ball with great field position. The Knights defense, however, proved stout as they forced a turnover on downs.
Hovan responded to his early third quarter blunder with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Spiller midway through the third to extend the John Champe lead to 21-13.
“We felt in the second quarter we had a great opportunity to take and extend the lead, but we sort of trickled off,” Carter said. “Then in the third quarter, we thought if we could withstand the first six minutes of the second half, we would be alright.”
Neither offense had much luck for the next 10 minutes of action before John Champe senior punter Isaiah Lewis-Hudson pinned the Lightning at their own 6 yard line midway through the fourth quarter.
With their backs against the wall, the Lightning responded on the very first play of their drive as Working dumped a short pass off to Dorsey, who went 94 yards for a touchdown. Trailing 21-19, the Lightning elected to go for two and came up short as the Knights maintained their 2-point lead.
Another three-and-out gave Lightridge the ball back with a chance to take the lead, which they did when senior kicker Connor Moyssiadis knocked through a 37-yard field goal with less than four minutes to play to give the Lightning a 22-21 lead.
It appeared the Lightning elected to onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, which the Knights recovered in Lightridge territory.
John Champe took advantage of the short field as Ebadi rebounded from his earlier missed field goal, with a 32-yard field goal that bounced off the upright and through as the lead changed for the sixth and final time, securing the Knights a 24-22 win.
“After he missed [a field goal attempt]earlier, I told him, don’t hang your head, an opportunity will come back to you,” Carter said. “Then he nailed the game winner.”
Both teams will be back in Aldie on September 8 as the Lightning host the Sherando Warriors and the Knights host the Loudoun Valley Vikings.
“We have to get better each week,” Carter said. “We tell the guys, we’ve been in tough games before, but we just have to keep working to get better.”
|1Q||4:21||Lightridge||Carter Working to Al Honesty 15-yard TD pass (PAT missed)||0-6|
|1Q||0:56||John Champe||Cooper Fitzgerald 53-yard punt return TD (Ebadi PAT)||7-6|
|2Q||6:47||Lightridge||Josiah Dorsey 3-yard TD run (Moyssiadis PAT)||7-13|
|2Q||4:51||John Champe||Duran Hovan to Michael Clark 16-yard TD pass (Ebadi PAT)||14-13|
|3Q||4:33||John Champe||Duran Hovan to Greg Spiller 27-yard TD pass (Ebadi PAT)||21-13|
|4Q||7:10||Lightridge||Carter Working to Josiah Dorsey 94-yard TD pass (2pt failed)||21-19|
|4Q||3:43||Lightridge||Connor Moyssiadis 37-yard field goal||21-22|
|4Q||1:04||John Champe||Omar Ebadi 32-yard field goal||24-22|