Leesburg, Va. — When rivals meet late in the season, anything is possible. While the Loudoun County High School football team had secured its playoff seed before their Week 11 rivalry matchup, Heritage High School was looking to earn a win to sneak into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the VHSL Region 4C.
Despite scoring on just the sixth play from scrimmage, the Pride couldn’t overcome the dual-threat of Loudoun County senior quarterback Aidan Ballve nor the breakaway speed of sophomore running back Montez Dyson, as the Captains cruised past the Pride, 34-21, on November 3 in Leesburg.
“Records don’t matter and what happened during the rest of the season doesn’t matter; neighborhood games are always going to be a battle,” Loudoun County head coach Matt Reidenbaugh said. “We knew what we were in for, and we knew they had playoff hopes, so we were going to get their best shot.”
On just the sixth play from scrimmage, Heritage senior running back Luke Wingfield showed the Captains what they were in for as he found a hole and went untouched up the middle for a 67-yard touchdown to put the Pride up, 7-0.
That early score wouldn’t deter the Captains though as they responded on their first drive with a score of their own. Ballve completed passes to three different receivers on their opening drive, including a 32-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Sam Frye. The Captains, however, missed the PAT.
On the ensuing Heritage drive, the Pride continued to go to their trusty workhorse as Wingfield rushed for 119 yards in the first quarter alone. A 6-yard rush to end the first half, set up a 1st-and-goal for the Pride to open the second quarter. Three plays later, Wingfield was in the endzone with his second rushing touchdown of the night. The Pride, however, missed the PAT, bringing the score to 13-6.
A nice return by Loudoun County senior defensive back Aaraon DiLorenzo gave the Captains the ball at midfield to start their second drive, but the Heritage defense stepped up, forcing a Loudoun County punt.
Following a Heritage punt, the Captains wouldn’t let their next opportunity go to waste as sophomore running back Montez Dyson started the drive with a 21 yard run. After a holding penalty on the next play, Ballve broke free for a 50 yard pickup, setting up a 14-yard touchdown run by Dyson with about three minutes to play in the first half. After a successful PAT, the score was knotted up at 13-13.
On the next possession, the Pride looked to take the lead heading into the half, but Loudoun County senior defensive back Charlie Seventko had other plans as he intercepted Heritage to give the Captains an opportunity to double down, knowing they’d be receiving the kickoff to open the second half.
Facing 4th-and-8 from the Heritage 36, Ballve gave the Captains’ their first lead of the night as he connected with senior receiver Tanner Vogel on a 36-yard touchdown pass.
Loudoun County continued to establish the run game to open the second half as Dyson and Ballve marched down the field trading carries before Ballve broke loose for a 26-yard touchdown run to extend the Captains’ lead to 27-13 early in the third.
“Aiden’s athletic ability has been a big deal all year. When we play mobile quarterbacks, it’s such a pain to prep for them, because it just adds a-whole-nother layer,” Reidenbaugh said. “Having both Aiden and Montez back there really challenges defenses. They help each other play better, because the defense can’t really key on one of them.”
After a Heritage three-and-out, Dyson got right back to work going for 31 yards then 22 yards then a 14-yard touchdown run to make it a three-score game late in the third quarter.
To close the third quarter, the Pride had moved their way deep into Loudoun County territory, but just as they looked to cut into the Captains’ lead, Seventko rose to the occasion again, intercepting his second pass of the night, helping solidify the win for the Captains.
“It was just a great job by him, doing his job, and putting himself in position to make the picks,” Reidenbaugh said. “He’s a multi-sport athlete, so he does a great job going up and playing the ball.”
With the regular season in the books, Loudoun County will look forward towards a VHSL Region 4C quarterfinal matchup with Woodgrove on November 10 in Leesburg. Meanwhile, Heritage fell 0.200 power points shy of a playoff berth.
“It’s been the message all year: we have to worry about us. We have to fix our flaws and some of the things we’ve been doing,” Reidenbaugh said. “When we’ve had challenges this year, it’s usually been about Loudoun County more than the opponent. We’ve had a great month of practice here, so we just need one more good week this week.”
|1Q||8:40||Heritage||Luke Wingfield 67-yard TD run (William Lees PAT)||0-7|
|1Q||3:40||Loudoun County||Aiden Ballve to Sam Frye 32-yard TD pass (PAT missed)||6-7|
|2Q||11:12||Heritage||Luke Wingfield 11-yard TD run (PAT missed)||6-13|
|2Q||3:07||Loudoun County||Montez Dyson 14-yard TD run (Chase Kibble PAT)||13-13|
|2Q||0:27||Loudoun County||Aiden Ballve to Tanner Vogel 36-yard TD pass (Kibble PAT)||20-13|
|3Q||8:49||Loudoun County||Aiden Ballve 26-yard TD run (Kibble PAT)||27-13|
|3Q||4:33||Loudoun County||Montez Dyson 14-yard TD run (Chase Kibble PAT)||34-13|
|4Q||0:38||Heritage||Luke Wingfield to Aayon Mahmood 67-yard TD pass (Luke Wingfield 2pt run)||34-21|