While hardly a storybook season, the last chapter for the Falls Church High School varsity football team will read as a happy one, as the Jaguars trounced the J.E.B. Stuart Raiders 62-6 on Saturday night to claim the coveted Bell.
The Jaguars started their scoring early, when Yousef Khatib’s throw from 22-yards out found a lunging Demetrius Roberson, who beat out several Stuart defenders for a Jaguar touchdown at 8:49 in the first quarter.
After Stuart went a quick three and out, a four-yard run by Gabe Eusebio placed the Jags in striking position again, this time second and goal from the four-yard line.
Khatib easily found junior Keith Long on the ensuing possession to put the Jaguars up by two touchdowns within the first eight minutes of the game.
The Raiders tried to gain momentum, taking a chance on 4 & 12 to start up the offense, but failed to convert, giving the Jags the ball and a short field. But Stuart’s Johne Wolfe intercepted the ball, bringing the Raiders out to the 20-yard line.
The ecstasy would be short lived for the Raiders. The ball was knocked loose on the consequent drive and recovered by the Jaguars’ Demarcus Graham with just five seconds remaining in the first.
Eusebio wasted no time, as the junior running back took a shuffle pass 14 yards to put the Jaguars on top 20-0, after the following PAT was blocked.
Two more scores by Eusebio, and a pair by junior Miles Hurkamp, including a 27-yard interception return, put Falls Church on top 48-0 at the half.
The onslaught on Stuart’s overwhelmed defense continued after the break, with the Raiders succumbing to two more Jaguar touchdowns — this time rushes by Hurkamp and Graham, pushing the score to a staggering 62-0.
Early game celebrations ensued, as Jags players soaked coaches with Gatorade with three minutes still remaining in the fourth quarter.
On the home team’s sideline, the Raiders faced not only a winless season, and losing the Bell Game for the second straight year, but they refused to allow their seniors to step off their home field for the last time without a score.
So when Raiders player Nick Tong finally removed the monkey off their backs, hitting pay dirt with 29 seconds remaining, the typical cheers from the home crowd became eruptions, affecting the game’s mood, if not its outcome.
The game marked the end of high school football for 11 Raiders and 17 Jaguar players.
“It was extremely important to us to send our guys out with a win,” said Falls Church Head Coach Anthony Parker. “We had a lot of games this year we lost because we gave up late scores. We knew Stuart was going to come out and be fired up for this game, so we just came out and tried to have a good week at practice.”
With the win, Parker is optimistic toward the future of his Jaguar squad.
“We have a lot of young guys and hope to try to get them experienced and ready,” he said. “We’ve had the Bell for two years now and hope to hold on to it.”
The game marked the 46th match-up in the classic Bell Game, an annual tradition that has seen the Raiders come out on top 30 times.
With both squads leaning on a heavy majority of underclassmen, next year’s game could see a match-up of two much-improved teams.