Leesburg, Va. — The Tuscarora High School football team held rival Loudoun County High School scoreless in their first matchup of the season on September 9. But it took the Captains just two minutes to get on the board when the teams met in a VHSL Region 4C semifinal on November 17 in Leesburg.
Despite the early deficit, the Huskies proved why they’re the Region No. 1 seed as senior quarterback Tommy Peede rushed for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns, while completing 6 passes for 58 yards and another touchdown, in Tuscarora’s, 28-16, win over the Captains, securing a trip to the VHSL Region 4C championship game.
“Loudoun County is an awesome team, an awesome program, and Coach Reidenbaugh does an awesome job,” Tuscarora head coach and Dulles District Coach of the Year Jared Toler said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
And easy, it was not.
On the very first play from scrimmage, Loudoun County sophomore running back Montez Dyson found a hole and ran 31 yards up the middle to give the Captains a first down at the Tuscarora 34 yard line. Just three plays later, Dyson was in the endzone after a screen pass from senior quarterback Aiden Ballve gave the sophomore speedster an open field to go 36 yards to the house.
Trailing 7-0, the Huskies looked to squash any Loudoun County momentum on their first drive of the game, but after crossing midfield, Tuscarora hit a roadblock, turning the ball over on downs.
After trading three-and-outs, the Huskies forced a Loudoun County turnover on downs, taking over at their own 39 yard line.
Tuscarora wasn’t going to miss out on their third opportunity of the night as Peede—in just his third game back since returning from an injury—remained patient behind his line of scrimmage to move the Huskies into the redzone. Facing a 4th-and-1 from the 14, Peede hit a hole and took off, scrambling his way into the endzone to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the second quarter.
“He got banged up this year and missed three-and-a-half games, so he’s had to battle some adversity,” Toler said. “The good thing is, he stayed focused while he was out. The band of brothers picked him up while he was out.”
On the ensuing Loudoun County drive, the Huskies defense proved sound once again, forcing another turnover on downs and giving the Tuscarora offense a chance to take their first lead of the game before halftime.
Facing 4th-and-3 from the Loudoun County 29, Peede once again found an opening, breaking free for a 21-yard pickup, setting up a 1st-and-goal from the 8.
After a false start pushed the Huskies back to the 13, the Captains broke through the Tuscarora line and sacked Peede at the 22 yard line, putting the Huskies in a tough spot with less than 30 seconds to play in the half.
But as cool as he had been all night, Peede stayed patient and delivered a great pass to senior receiver Joseph Santos for a 22-yard touchdown, and the Huskies took the lead heading into the half, 14-7.
“[Peede] was a little rusty in his first game back,” Toler said. “But he’s kicking it into high gear right now and doing everything we’re asking him to do.”
Much like they had to open the first half, the Captains entered the second half with some life, forcing a three-and-out before turning the field around, allowing senior kicker Chase Kibble to hit a 25-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 14-10 midway through the third quarter.
Knowing the Captains were nipping at their heels, the Huskies wanted to re-extend their lead. During the ensuing drive, four different ball carriers marched Tuscarora 65 yards down field before Peede once again scampered his way into the end zone.
“When all your linemen are all-district, you have time and you can be patient. I just sit back and wait to find the hole, and there are some big holes,” Peede said. “And it’s not just the linemen; the running backs and receivers are doing their jobs as well.”
In an attempt to make it a one-score game, the Captains started to move the ball downfield as Ballve connected with senior receiver Tanner Vogel on a 40-yard completion down to the Tuscarora 37. After a Dyson run set up a 2nd-and-1 on the 28, the Captains decided to take a shot at the end zone, but Ballve’s pass was picked off by Tuscarora defensive back Dawson Pough to curb the Loudoun County threat.
“We found ourselves in a couple spots where we were out of position, but again our band of brothers picked each other up,” Toler said. “Dawson was back where he needed to be, and he made a huge play. They focused on him on offense, so he picked us up on defense.”
That turnover proved fruitful for the Huskies as junior running back Bernardo Rivera-Carrasco capped off the ensuing drive with a 17-yard touchdown run to extend the Tuscarora lead to 28-10.
Despite another Ballve to Dyson touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, the Huskies held off the Captains, 28-16, to advance to the VHSL Region 4C championship game, where they will host Catoctin District champion John Champe on November 24 in Leesburg. Kickoff is set for 1pm.
“It’s the coaches, it’s the players: they’ll do anything for each other, that’s what’s special about this team,” Toler said. “We’re just going to pay attention to the details, and hope everything goes our way.”
|1Q||9:57||Loudoun County||Aiden Ballve to Montez Dyson 36-yard TD pass (Chase Kibble PAT)||0-7|
|2Q||6:27||Tuscarora||Tommy Peede 14-yard TD run (Josh Tikalsky PAT)||7-7|
|2Q||0:23||Tuscarora||Tommy Peede to Joseph Santos 22-yard TD pass (Josh Tikalsky PAT)||14-7|
|3Q||5:17||Loudoun County||Chase Kibble 25-yard field goal||14-10|
|3Q||0:39||Tuscarora||Tommy Peede 7-yard TD run (Josh Tikalsky PAT)||21-10|
|4Q||7:26||Tuscarora||Bernardo Rivera-Carrasco 17-yard TD run (Josh Tikalsky PAT)||28-10|
|4Q||5:29||Loudoun County||Aiden Ballve to Montez Dyson 25-yard TD pass (2pt failed)||28-16|