by Kate Karstens
The George Mason varsity football team fell to 3-1 in the district after a devastating loss to the Clarke County Eagles, who remain undefeated in the Bull Run District.
Although the Mustangs only trailed by two touchdowns at the end of the first half, they were swiftly defeated in the second half by the superior Eagles with a resulting score of 42-14.
Holes in Mason’s defensive line, inability to protect key players on offense, and an assortment of nervous errors led to the ultimate demise of the Mustangs in the homecoming football game.
Clarke’s return of the Mason kickoff was inconclusive, with major defensive tackles by Matt Mineo, Justin Thomas, and Finn Roou. The Eagles did not punt on their fourth down, which resulted in optimal positioning for the Mustangs, 40 yards from the end-zone at the start of the first quarter.
Senior running back, D’Montae Noble completed a 28 yard run to start the Mason offensive drive. Mason depended on Noble once more to conclude the drive to put the score at 7-0, with the extra point by sophomore kicker, Ethan Morse.
While the Clarke defense faced adversity, the offense took the field and quickly drove 80 yards in a collection of running plays to push the score to 7-7, early in the first quarter.
The first quarter concluded as the Eagles pushed their way down the field for their second effective offensive drive of the game. In position at the 19 yard line, in the first play of the second quarter, the Clarke running back ran the ball in to push the score to 14-7.
Mason’s offensive line crumbled beneath the Clarke pressure, symbolized by the final play during the drive wherein a snap over the head of quarterback Thomas Creed led to a turnover, putting Clarke in the position to score once more.
As a result of a passing interference call on the Mason defense, the Eagles were pushed forward another 15 yards, and the quarterback for the Eagles ran 15 yards to complete the touchdown at 8 minutes in the second quarter to push the score to 21-7.
The Mason offense could not return the same intensity of the Clarke competition, as Creed tossed a devastating interception to put the Eagle offense back on the field at Mason’s 37 yard line.
With four minutes left in the first half, Clarke ran in their fourth touchdown of the game, attacking the weak center of the Mustang defensive line.
“Against Clarke, it [our defense] wasn’t nearly as effective as we needed it to be,” said defensive back, Matthew Mineo. “Despite practicing against their style offense during the week, we weren’t able to make very many big plays against them.”
However, Noble proved resilient in the final minutes of the second quarter when he ran a 50 yard touchdown, bringing the score to 28-14.
Mason’s offensive drives in the second half consisted of a variety of Noble’s runs which were ineffective without a consistent block from Mason to protect against the Eagle onslaught.
The third quarter did not showcase either team, as the score remained constant and neither team could effectively push past the other.
However, the Clarke offense set the tone for the fourth quarter when, on the first play of the drive, the running back ran a 20 yard touchdown, eluding a variety of Mason defenders, to enforce their stance as the dominant team with a score of 35-14.
“Clarke is a very good team,” said Head Coach, Tony Green. “They stuffed us up a bit on offense.” The final touchdown of the game in the middle of the fourth quarter by Clarke left both teams aimless in the final minutes of the game, with no reason to fight the crushing score of 42-14.
A variety of offensive errors led to the ultimate demise of Mason, with no assistance from the faltering defensive line that Clarke took advantage of.
“I think that after last week we could easily just break down and give up on the season, but we won’t,” said senior captain, Hunter Sulc. Through the variety of struggles that Mason could not overcome, a few players were resilient in the fight against Clarke.
The Mustangs go on the road Friday, Oct. 23 to Warren County (2-5), a Bull Run District opponent, currently fourth in the rankings with Mason at second.