A date with undefeated Central High School on Oct. 19 went awry for George Mason High School, which fell 39-0 against the visiting Falcons.
Despite the wide final margin, the game was much closer than it appeared. Defensively, the Mustangs (2-5) held Central’s bruising running back in check for most of the opening quarter. On offense, Mason failed to find the endzone but was still able to make the Falcons earn their points with long drives. However, a few minor mistakes and missed opportunities compounded into an avalanche of consequences for the Mustangs, who realized getting out of their own way was just as important as impeding their opponent’s plan.
“We played well, they just had a couple of inches on us that allowed them to have big plays. It was definitely the little things that got us,” junior tight end Michael Turner said.
Trailing 6-0 with seven minutes to go in the first quarter, Mason was looking to land a surprise uppercut to Central with a trick play for their first offensive possession. A run-of-the-mill screen pass to a wide receiver turned out to be a double pass for a streaking Mustang receiver who went for 58 yards on the play. Unfortunately, the receiver who tossed the second pass stepped off the line of scrimmage right before the snap. Mason was penalized for an illegal formation for not having the required seven men on the line of scrimmage and the play was wiped out.
Though whiffing on what would’ve been a tone-setter early in the game, the Mustangs wouldn’t feel the effects of that error until the first play of the second quarter. A missed chance at a defensive stop put Mason down two scores when junior linebacker Matthew Teague overshot his chance to wrap up Central’s running back for a loss of yardage after bursting through Central’s offensive line. Teague wound up being the only Mustang within an arm’s reach of the Falcons’ runner on the play, who galloped 39 yards untouched to go up 12-0.
A fumbled snap on Mason’s following drive tee’d up another quick touchdown for Central, yet the Mustangs were still just one big play away from making the 18-0 deficit feel surmountable. Staring down a third and seven from their own 40 yard line, freshman Evans Rice intended to make that big play happen with a heave downfield. But the pass was snatched by a Central safety, who darted 57 yards to return the interception for a touchdown. The game’s five-plus minutes remaining in the first half and the entire second half became a formality by that point.
At the core of this current five-game losing streak is an offense that’s gone cold, especially on the ground.
“We’re just having trouble running it,” Mason head coach Adam Amerine said. “We’ve had some of our senior running backs out, so we’ve had sophomores back their running it. And our offensive line hasn’t been fully healthy either. We just don’t have the unit that we had at the start of the season right now and it’s a challenge.”
Mason will look to turn their luck around in their final home game against Clarke County High School Friday night.