While it looked like Stone Bridge was down for the count multiple times Friday night, the Bulldogs got back up off the mat and stunned top seed Massaponax 50-49 and advance in the Group 5A playoffs.
Stone Bridge at one point trailed 49-35 in the fourth quarter, but Joe Thompson scored from 6 yards out on a 4th and short, then Dewayne Winston burst 55 yards up the middle for a touchdown on the next drive to make it a one-point game. Coach Mickey Thompson elected to go for two, and his son bulled into the end zone for the two-point conversion in the final minutes to give the Bulldogs the lead for good.
Massaponax tried to counter in the closing moments, but the Stone Bridge defense tackled Panther quarterback Joey Benden short of the first down marker on a 4th and 3 play at the Bulldog 41 to preserve the win.
The win was Stone Bridge’s 5th straight after getting off to a 4-4 start, and the Bulldogs handed 12-1 Massaponax its only loss of the season. Stone Bridge advances next Saturday to play Tuscarora – 63-49 winners over North Stafford Friday – in Leesburg.
Stone Bridge started the game very slowly, fumbling the opening kickoff, then after the defense held, fumbled again on the Bulldog 25. Massaponax capitalized on the second gift, as Benden threw a 6 yards touchdown pass to Josh Lewis for a 6-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, the Panther drove 75 yards in six plays with Tristan Medina running up the middle from 4 yards out and stretching the ball across the goal line to make it 13-0. That score seemed to wake up the Stone Bridge offense, as Thompson hit two big passes to Brett Smedley, then ran the remaining 30 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-7.
But Massaponax answered with a long drive of its own, culminating in a 16-yard run by Benden where it appeared he was initially stopped, then he slipped through the pile and easily ran into the end zone for a 20-7 advantage. Stone Bridge wowed the crowd with a 75-yard TD pass from Thompson to Smedley that was negated by a penalty, but the Bulldogs shook it off and went 80 yards in 4 plays with Joshua Breece scoring on a 24-yard run to make it 20-14.
The Stone Bridge defense couldn’t hold again, and Massaponax ate up the rest of the half and scored on a 29-yard pass from Benden to Trey Carson with only 39 seconds left in the half to make the score at intermission 27-14.
Massaponax would make it 34-14 on a 33-yard scoring pass from Benden to Medina, but touchdown runs of 63 and 5 yards by Chase Ridley would close the gap to 34-28. Massaponax calmly responded, methodically going 69 yards on 8 straight running plays as Benden scored on a 20-yard run, then Benden threw to Marcus Mudd for the two-pointer to make it 42-28....