by Kate Karstens
In a 40-22 loss to Sidwell Friends varsity football on Sept. 11, the George Mason Mustangs were left scrambling on the field, unable to use the momentum from last week’s blowout against the Rappahannock County Panthers.
The game could have been much worse, but the Mustangs managed to come back in the final plays of the game. In the second half, Mason ended up outscoring Sidwell, 22-7. However, Sidwell triumphed over Mason due to defensive errors and an inability to tackle well.
The first Sidwell possession of the game resulted a quick 6-0 lead over the Mustangs, with junior wide receiver Dylan Greynolds catching a short pass and weaving through three Mason defensive backs.
Sidwell had no trouble moving the ball in the first quarter, with their quarterback, senior Ted Hefter, running the ball three times in one offensive possession, gaining a first down each time. Their drive concluded with Hefter throwing out to Greynolds, who eluded three Mustangs for the second touchdown of the game. Hefter looked to Greynolds once more for the two point conversion to give Sidwell a 14 point lead over Mason.
“When they jumped out to an early lead I felt like we lost a lot of confidence and as a result we didn’t play the way we’re capable of,” said junior captain, Dustin Green.
Sidwell’s return of Mason’s punt towards the start of the second quarter resulted in Sidwell’s positioning 20 yards from the goal line. Hefter’s run left Sidwell at first and goal, and senior running back, Terrance Horne ran it in to seal Mason’s fate.
Sidwell’s offensive line gave Hefter the extra seconds needed to make smart plays, like the 20 yard pass he made while on the move to sophomore running back, Mark Chichester. Hefter sent another bullet to Greynolds down the center of the field to put Sidwell in position to score. When Mason left Horne without a defense, he caught a short pass and took it to the endzone.
“We need to work on tackling,” said linemen coach, Ryan Larcamp. “We really struggled with that and we’ll be focusing on that this week. We had worked on it in practice and covered their plays but it didn’t come through in the game.”
Mason’s offensive effort resulted in yet another punt to Sidwell. However, Mustang defense began to scramble Sidwell, whose drive included an incomplete pass, an unsuccessful run, and a handoff that resulted in a fumble recovered by Sidwell. Finally, a ball thrown deep by Hefter gave Sidwell the yards needed to go for the last touchdown of the half, a ball run in by Horne, leaving Mason down 0-33 at the end of the first half.
At the start of the second half, Mason began to come alive. When Sidwell took possession again, senior defensive back, Matthew Mineo, blocked a ball thrown deep that could have resulted in a crippling touchdown by Sidwell.
In the next play, Mineo caught an interception in the endzone, turning the ball over to Mason with some momentum, however it was no match to Sidwell’s persistent defense.
Sidwell’s re-possession wasted no time in simply gaining yards, going straight for the touchdown on the first play. A handoff to Horne game him the opportunity to complete a 60 yard run and score but senior defensive back, Justin Thomas, dove at the last second and prevented Horne from making it to the line. Yet, Horne was persistent and ran it to the line in Sidwell’s final play, pushing the score to 40-0, after a successful kick by sophomore Billy Hefter.
In one of Mason’s successful offensive drives of the game, junior running back, Dustin Green, was responsible for many of the yards gained, almost 40. Often, it took at least four Sidwell defenders to take him down.
At last, Mason took their chance at the goal line and sent fullback, Finn Rou into the endzone, putting the Mustangs on the board for the first time in the entire game. Dustin Green finished Mason’s push with a two point conversion.
When Sidwell was sacked and unable to gain yards, Mason took the opportunity and at the turnover, handed the ball to Sulc to bring the game to 40-14. However, Mason was unable to make the two point conversion when Creed’s pass to Green was incomplete.
In the last minutes of the game, Mason once again gained possession and sent Sulc barreling down the field. Sulc brought the Mustangs to first and goal where Green ran the ball for Mason’s final touchdown, which was followed by a two point conversion with a run by Sulc.
“It was a disappointing loss, but I think we had a good second half. We made some big stops on defense, our offense came to life a little more, and together we were able to outscore Sidwell in the 3rd and 4th quarters,” said Mineo.
The Mustangs, now 1-1 on the season, will take on the Luray County Bulldogs (2-0) at home on Friday, Sept. 18.