It was a sloppy game all around, as wet conditions and hustling defenses kept both offenses in check for most of the night.
Luray did its scoring periodically, putting together a scoring drive in three of the four quarters. On one of their first drives of the game, junior Bulldog quarterback Will Logan hooked up with senior wide receiver John Earnest for a 19-yard touchdown strike just eight minutes into the first quarter.
The Bulldogs did not strike again until three minutes left in the third quarter, when they were able to march deep in Mason territory with a pounding running game that featured junior running back Garrett Cook. The drive, however, stalled out and Luray was forced to settle for a 32-yard field goal from senior placekicker Anthony Palermiti. The field goal gave Luray a 10-0 lead with just 15 minutes remaining in the game.
Cook was the centerpiece of the Luray offense, pounding out tough yards, in addition to his big plays against a Mason defense that possessed a lot of on-field speed and strength. He also capped off Luray’s scoring with a 13-yard touchdown run with five minutes left to play. The ensuing point was not successful, and the score would hold up to be the final for the game.
Even without the services of reigning Bull Run defensive player of the year Joel Chandler, the Mason defense only surrendered 16 points to the home team. Led by a linebacker group consisting of juniors Matt Palmieri, Misael Benitez and Manuel Veiga-Diaz, the Mustang defense had a solid evening, swarming ball carriers the majority of the game. However, due to a stagnant Mason offense, the defense was on the field much longer than they had planned.
“Our defense played well, but [Cook] did a really good job running the ball. He made us pay by breaking a lot of arm tackles,” noted senior tight end/nose guard Andrew Lieber.
Despite the defense keeping Cook and company in check, the Mustang offense was unable to find any type of swagger. Their running game was derailed early on and often made for a frustrating evening for the Mason offense.
Lieber was disappointed with the performance of the offensive line. “We weren’t able to open up any holes for our backs, and we didn’t give our quarterbacks any time to throw. They didn’t have any time to find open receivers,” said Lieber.
Mason is now 1-3 for the season, having not won a game since the season’s first week. They round out their non-district schedule on Friday with a home game against 1-3 Goochland, also nicknamed the Bulldogs.
While they have been outscored 36-80 in their three out-of-district losses, the Mustangs remain confident that they will turn their luck around in time for Bull Run District opponents. The team was in a similar situation in 2006 when they went 1-4 in non-district play before going on to become undefeated district champions.
George Mason begins the district season with their homecoming game against Manassas Park. Although aspirations for a repeat of the ‘06 season may be somewhat of a stretch, several players noted that the talent is in place and they should not be disregarded just yet.
“It’s frustrating to lose these games, but they don’t count for anything. We’re going to work as hard as we can on our technique, and watch a lot of film as we prepare for Goochland but I know we all have Manassas Park in the back of our minds. That’s when it starts to count,” said Lieber.