If the Stone Bridge Bulldogs were concerned because their high-octane offense had been kept fully in check for the first 15 minutes or so on Friday night against Briar Woods, they sure didn’t look the part.
Accustomed to putting up nearly 60 points per game, Stone Bridge stayed patient after going scoreless in the first quarter by pulling in front early in the second quarter and never looking back. After two touchdowns in the final minute of the first half broke the game open, the Bulldogs erupted for four more scores in the third quarter and romped to a 49-7 win over the Falcons in the 5C regional final.
Stone Bridge is at William Fleming Saturday April 24 for a state semifinal.
Both teams showed a penchant for going for it on fourth-down in the game’s early stages, beginning with Briar Woods (5-2), whose mission of keeping their defense off the field as much as possible held up for longer than some might have expected. Stone Bridge (7-0) opened the scoring on a fourth-down play of their own, when quarterback William Wiles found Doniven Cooper in stride from 20 yards out.
After David Cobbs’ 16-yard touchdown catch doubled the Bulldogs’ lead with 47 seconds left until halftime, a mistake on special teams all but cost Briar Woods the game. The end-over-end kick, one of many on the night from Stone Bridge, wasn’t caught cleanly and ended up on the turf just as the Bulldogs were bearing down in return coverage. Cobbs scored again on the very next play, this time on a brilliantly-executed rollout from Wiles, and the Falcons’ threats rang silent from there.
“The last time we played them, you could take four [or] five plays, and if we didn’t have those four or five plays, that game could have been different,” said Stone Bridge coach Mickey Thompson, recalling their 56-29 win over Briar Woods on March 5. “You look at this game, the score doesn’t tell the story … They gave us some struggles in a lot of different places.
“The fact that you can make big plays in situations like that, that’s critical.”
With less than three minutes gone in the third quarter, Briar Woods got on the board with a 10-yard touchdown throw from Christian Greene to Evan Smith, but it was all Stone Bridge from there. 20 seconds later, Wiles launched one downfield for Cooper, who hauled it in and easily took it the remainder of the 70 yards to paydirt. A pair of Eli Mason touchdown runs followed, as did a pick-six by Zach Laing to cap off a run of six touchdowns in barely 12 minutes of game time.
“We came out slower than we wanted to, but I think we got things going and we ultimately got what we want, and that’s a win,” said Wiles. “We don’t do anything the same way anyone else does. Everything we do is different and that really gives defenses a problem.”
VHSL 5C FINAL
Stone Bridge 49, Briar Woods 7
Stone Bridge 0 21 28 0 -- 49
Briar Woods 0 0 7 0 -- 7
SB: Cooper 20 pass from Wiles (Dastejerdi kick), 8:42
SB: Cobbs 16 pass from Wiles (Dastejerdi kick), 0:47
SB: Cobbs 4 pass from Wiles (Dastejerdi kick), 0:18
BW: Smith 10 pass from Greene (Callaghan kick), 9:43
SB: Cooper 70 pass from Wiles (Dastejerdi kick), 9:23
SB: Mason 13 run (Dastejerdi kick), 6:03
SB: Mason 44 run (Dastejerdi kick), 3:19
SB: Laing 28 interception return (Dastejerdi kick), 0:45
RUSHING -- Stone Bridge: 29-167, Mattison 3-20, Mason 15-104, Wiles 4-12, Convington-Griggs 3-27, Richards 2-2, Irizarry 2-2; Briar Woods 24-49, Hoyler 11-35, Greene 12-12, Schalow 1-2
PASSING -- Stone Bridge: Wiles 12-19-0-208; Briar Woods: Greene 11-33-3-60
RECEIVING -- Stone Bridge: Cobbs 5-50, Dudley 1-22, Mattison 3-48, Cooper 2-90, Convington-Griggs 1-(-2); Briar Woods: Rutkowski 4-24, Hoyler 2-2, Smith 3-12, Hundley 1-12, G. Molina Herrera 1-10