First, the game’s start was moved up two hours because of weather concerns. Then Patriot quarterback Chris Sonnenberg had the Pioneers’ offense rolling like thunder—especially in the first quarter.
In the end, lightning won out, shortening the game to just short of three full quarters. By the time the end came, Sonnenberg had certainly taken the game by storm, completing 32 of 44 passes for 466 yards and five touchdowns as previously winless Patriot left host Colgan a bit shellshocked with a 41-13 non-district victory Friday night in the InsideNoVa Game of the Week.
The game was called after a lightning delay of more than 90 minutes with 8.7 seconds left in the third quarter and Patriot winning by the final margin. School officials decided to wait until 9:30 and when lightning persisted, the Pioneers were declared the winners. When coach Brud Bicknell announced to his team that they had won, the players erupted, hooting and hollering while slapping each other on the back repeatedly in Colgan’s auxiliary gym.
Patriot (1-2) is capable of playing better than its record might indicate and Friday’s result is exhibit A. The Pioneers forced two fumbles defensively, and made Colgan quarterback Justin Kapp uncomfortable throughout the game. Kapp finished with 8 of 19 passing for 100 yards as the Sharks gained just 146 yards of offense.
Colgan (1-2) trailed by 34 points before scoring for the first time when Blake Edwards electrified the crowd with a 75-yard kickoff return that was more a testament to his blazing speed than to soft Patriot coverage. The Sharks later scored again on a 60-yard pass from Kapp to Edwards, but by then the Pioneers were pretty much in control (and there wasn’t much time left in the game as it turned out).
Sonnenberg was brilliant early, completing 18 of his first 21 passes in the first half before missing on three straight attempts. The senior amassed 333 yards passing and four touchdowns in the first half alone.
Patriot’s top two receivers in the game each collected more than 100 yards (Tyler Settle, 6 catches, 136 yards and Jalen Smalls, 10 catches, 117 yards). Smalls had two TD receptions, while Settle notched one.
“We came out and played hard [from the beginning],” Bicknell said. “I think they maybe wanted to prove that they were a better team than they [his players] had probably showed in the first two games.”
Just a week earlier, Patriot led Mountain View 28-21 before the game was suspended due to lightning. When the game resumed Saturday morning, Mountain View responded with a 43-35 victory. Coupled with a competitive but heartbreaking loss to Colonial Forge in its opener, Patriot may have been seeking to erase the disappointing beginning to its season with a statement victory.
“You never know how precise the throwing game is going to be,” Bicknell said. “There’s always margin for error. But I think that [the passing game] is always going to be our strength and it was good that we executed.”
Perhaps a bit fortunately for Patriot, there wasn’t a fourth quarter, because against both of its previous opponents, the Pioneers either led or were in the game, only to lose it by fading in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t think the team took [the losses] as any kind of moral victory because in both games we were ahead, but couldn’t close the deal. They were genuinely disappointed that we didn’t do enough to win the game,” Bicknell said.
Bicknell praised the play of his defense, noting that while they played well in stretches, during the first two games, they “saw some reward” for executing well throughout the game against Colgan. In a game with few negatives, one that emerged was the frequency and types of penalties the Pioneers endured.
Patriot, which will have a bye next week, was penalized nine times for 95 yards, a total that included two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and two penalties for illegal procedure.
“There’s no excuse for unsportsmanlike penalties or procedure penalties on the offense, so that is a concern, but I think it’s fixable, and it’s something we will address before our next game,” Bicknell said.
PATRIOT 41, COLGAN 13 (Game stopped after three quarters, lightning)
Patriot 21 13 7 – 41
Colgan 0 13 0 – 13
P—Allen 5 pass from Sonnenberg (Birge kick), 9:48
P—Carter 19 run (Birge kick), 4:06
P—Smalls 6 pass from Sonnenberg (Birge kick), 1:42
P—Settle 62 pass from Sonnenberg (kick failed), 10:50
P—Gaskins 23 pass from Sonnenberg (Birge kick), 8:51
C—Edwards 75 kickoff return (Guice kick), 8:37
C—Edwards 60 pass from Kapp (kick failed), 1:44
P—Smalls 7 pass from Sonnenberg (Birge kick), 3:49
Missed Field Goal—Birge, 35.
Rushing—Patriot, Kapp 2-31, Marcelle 8-25, Allen 1-4, Keck 1-4, Dingle 1-(minus 4), Sonnenberg 1-(minus 4); Colgan,Ross 10-29, Kapp 7-17, Edwards 1-0.
Passing—Patriot, Sonnenberg 32-44-0-466; Colgan, Kapp 7-19-0-100.
Receiving—Patriot, Smalls 10-117, JT Allen 10-113, Settle 6-136, Marcelle 2-27, Fisher 2-27, Gaskins 1-23, Carter 1-23; Colgan, Edwards 2-68, Medawar 2-27, Ross 1-11, Bowen 2-(minus 6).