Fans of Stone Bridge football had reason to be concerned the first half of Friday afternoon's Division 5 Northern Region championship game against Yorktown. Spurred by four Bulldog turnovers, the visiting Patriots (12-2) jumped out to a 29-7 lead, silencing the home crowd and stunning the Ashburn team as it bid for another state playoff run.
But if Yorktown's early lead was the shock of the game, the Bulldogs’ response provided the awe. Stone Bridge (13-0) relied on a dominating rushing attack and big plays on special teams to reel off 33 points in the third quarter alone and run away with the 69-50 win.
The Bulldogs’ scoring burst actually started in the second quarter. Facing the prospect of a three-score halftime deficit, the Stone Bridge mustered two touchdown drives that helped swing momentum back in their favor. Sterling Dailey scored on a 2-yard run, and Ryan Burns plunged into the end zone from four yards out just before time expired in the half.
The Bulldogs carried their rediscovered scoring mojo into the third quarter and simply blew the doors off the Patriot defense and special teams. Rassaun Goldring atoned for two first half fumbles by returning a punt 41 yards for a touchdown early in the third. D'Ante Yarborough added three scores of his own in the quarter, connecting with Burns for touchdown receptions of 20 and 90 yards, while also adding a 40-yard scoring run.
Despite giving up several scores in the first half – most coming after turnovers that gave the Patriots great field position – Jonathan Allen and the Stone Bridge defense held the Patriots without a first down or a point in the decisive third quarter. Allen blocked two extra point attempts in the game while adding a sack, a fumble recovery, and several disruptive plays in the Patriot backfield. The Bulldogs had trouble corralling Yorktown's explosive running back M.J. Stewart, who finished with a game high 220 yards rushing and five total touchdowns.
Even with Yorktown outscoring the Bulldogs 21-14 in the fourth quarter, Stone Bridge held on, with Goldring adding the game's final score with a 91-yard kickoff return.
The victory sends Stone Bridge back to the state playoffs after last year's uncharacteristic hiatus when the team fell to South County in the regional finals. The Bulldogs next go on the road to take on Hanover (9-3) who won the Central Region title over Hopewell 35-7.
Congratulations to the Bulldogs and check back with Ashburn Patch for continued playoff coverage.