Mason defense key in shutout, sets up single a showdown with Stonewall Jackson
On a night when lightning postponed the start of the game by thirty minutes and under a steady trickle of rain, the George Mason varsity football team did not miss a beat, easily defeating cross-town rival J.E.B. Stuart 42-0.
Although the company FieldTurf completed the job a mere couple of hours before the start of the game, the new field provided a near magical setting for the Mustang’s first home game of the season, as did the massive crowd that turned out for the unveiling of the new field.
“The kids were definitely excited about the turf,” Mason Head Coach Tom Horn said. “However, they were more excited about the crowd. The lightning delay caused the crowd to be at the gate, so the players had to walk through them to get to the field.”
As he mentioned earlier in the season, Coach Horn anticipated that the defense would be the key to victory throughout the year, and it was certainly the case Friday night. The Mustang’s suffocating line wore down the Stuart offense throughout the course of the evening en route to the shutout.
“We applied good defensive pressure in short yardage situations,” Horn said about his team. “This in turn shortened the field for us offensively. The defensive guys were standout once again. Ed Hickey and Ryan Larcamp, as well as our linebacking corps with Cody [Reynolds] and Judah [Chandler] all played really well.”
On the Raiders’ second possession of the game, which began on their own one-yard line following an interception, Mustang lineman Cody Reynolds broke past the offensive line and dragged Stuart quarterback Nick Childs out the back of the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 Mason lead.
On the ensuing drive, Mason sophomore running back Antonio Folks took a sweep from quarterback Mike Schwengel and dashed 33 yards down to the Stuart 11-yard line. Immediately following this, fellow sophomore Joel Chandler punched the ball over the goal line for a Mason touchdown. On the point-after, Horn turned to the trickeration page in his playbook, as kicker Ben Zorn faked the kick, while holder Schwengel rolled out to his left and found senior Eddie Huber in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion, giving the Mustangs a 10-0 lead.
This slim advantage proved to be all the difference the Mustangs would need, as Stuart was unable to muster any sort of offense the entire night. Even when it seemed that a Mason mistake might sway the momentum in favor of the Raiders, the Mustang defense was right on top of it, forcing turnover after turnover. Senior captain Ryan Larcamp turned in yet another impressive performance, with numerous tackles for a loss, and a key interception on the night. Zorn and sophomore Charlie Mann each recovered fumbles for the Mustangs.
Other touchdowns on the night were scored by Folks from four yards out in the second quarter, as well as Chandler for his second score of the night. Junior back Sean Mondragon dragged a host of Raider defenders with him into the end zone in the third quarter, making the score 29-0. Juniors Lex Layton and Josh Jenkins also contributed to the win, scoring their first varsity touchdowns for the Mustangs from nine and 18 yards out, respectively.
Coming off this impressive win, the Mustangs have leveled their record at 1-1 and have given themselves some positive momentum for a showdown versus single A powerhouse Stonewall Jackson-Quicksburg, whom the Mustangs fell to last year, 36-22. Many Mason players expect this to be one of the toughest games of the year.
“We have to turn good plays into bigger plays,” Horn said. “Although we were better than Monday night [an overtime loss to Dominion], it was because the front line we saw tonight was something we practice a lot against. [However], we didn’t execute well on offense today.”
The game between Stonewall Jackson and Mason will take place on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Mason High School’s Moore Cadillac Stadium.