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Football: Group AA, Div. 4 Semifinal: Close half as good as it gets for Cougars



ASHBURN—Courtland sprinted off the field at halftime, knowing it was in the game.

Less than an hour later the Cougars switched sides of the field for the fourth quarter, knowing that moral victory earned in a close first half was the only win they’d have to claim Saturday.


Group AAA, Div. 5

Lake Taylor 23, North Stafford 21

Group AA, Div. 4

Briar Woods 45, Courtland 15

Group AA, Div. 3

James Monroe 37, Kettle Run 30 (3OT)

Group A, Div. 2

Esses 40, John Battle 9


Briar Woods—the two-time defending Group AA, Division 4 state champions and winners of 27 straight games—scored 21 points in a seven-minute third-quarter explosion and turned a tentative 17–9 halftime lead into a 45–15 rout in Saturday’s state semifinal game.

The Falcons (14–0) will play Heritage of Lynchburg at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Liberty University, trying to become just the fifth school in state history to win three straight state titles.

Courtland (9–5) ended its season disappointed with the final result, but pleased knowing—at least for two quarters—it had gone toe-to-toe with the Falcons.

“They’re a good football team. They were fantastic,” Courtland quarterback Eric Washington said. “I just kept preaching, ‘Don’t lose the third quarter.’

“We came out fired up, but we lost that third quarter, and that’s what ended our careers.”

The Cougars had every reason to be fired up.

Two years ago, Courtland trailed 45–0 at the half against Briar Woods in this same round of the playoffs. But the Cougars wrote a different start this time.

The Falcons kicked a 35-yard field goal on their first possession and Cory Colder scored the first of his four short touchdown runs on the second for a 10–0 lead.

But in between those two drives, the Cougars discovered something: The Falcons had issues covering Courtland’s deep receivers.

On Courtland’s first possession—on third-and-12 from their own 20—Darien Grant ran a fly pattern and found himself open behind the Falcons’ defense. Washington overthrew Grant on that chance, but there would be more opportunities.

After Colder’s first score, Washington hit Chris Carpenter deep for a 48-yard gain, setting up Seth Yurgel’s 27-yard field goal. Like Grant before him, Carpenter was wide open.

Carpenter made an interception on Briar Woods’ next possession, and on second down—running the same play as he did on his last long catch—was again wide open behind the Falcons’ defense for a 48-yard score.

“I looked up and was surprised,” Washington said. “They were lackadaisical in the back. I was shocked. I was like, ‘Wow. He’s wide open.’”

Briar Woods coach Charlie Pierce—the brother of longtime Stafford coach and current Brooke Point athletic director Roger Pierce—said it was because of the deception built into Courtland’s wing–T offense.

“We’ve always prided ourselves in reading our keys and doing our jobs,” he said. “As soon as you get caught looking behind, that’s when they go pass, and that’s what happened.”

Suddenly it was 10–9 and Courtland was in the game until Briar Woods responded.

Behind an overpowering offensive line the Falcons followed Carpenter’s touchdown with a quick nine-play drive—including eight runs—and stretched the lead to 17–9 on Colder’s one-yard dive.

The second half was all Falcons.

A Courtland coverage breakdown led to a 42-yard scoring pass from Trace McSorley to Cam Serigne on the first Briar Woods possession of the third quarter.

The Falcons would add touchdowns on their next three possessions—two by Colder and one on an 80-yard run by McSorley.

The Cougars scored late on a 33-yard pass from Washington to Grant—again when the Falcons let the Courtland running back run free deep behind the secondary—but by then, the game was well out of reach.

“I knew we were going to have to be near perfect. They’re just that good,” Courtland coach J.C. Hall said. “It’s our second region title in the last three years. I’m hoping eventually we’ll take the next step.”

    Courtland 3 6 0 6 — 15

    Briar Woods 10 7 21 7 — 45

    First Quarter

    BW-N. Lafrankie 35-yard field goal

    BW-C. Colder 3-yard run (N. Lafrankie kick)

    Ct-S. Yurgel 27-yard field goal

    Second Quarter

    Ct-C. Carpenter 48-yard pass from E. Washington (kick failed)

    BW-C. Colder 1-yard run (N. Lafrankie kick)

    Third Quarter

    BW-C. Serigne 42-yard pass from T. McSorley (N. Lafrankie kick)

    BW-T. McSorley 80-yard run (N. Lafrankie kick)

    BW-C. Colder 1-yard run (N. Lafrankie kick)

    Fourth Quarter

    BW-C. Colder 3-yard run (N. Lafrankie kick)

    Ct-D. Grant 33-yard pass from E. Washington (run failed)


    Ct BW

    First downs8 24

    Rushing yardage24-47 50-339

    Passing yardage163 126

    Passes11-20-0 5-10-1

    Punts-Avg.6-30.1 2-33.0

    Fumbles-lost0-0 1-0

    Penalties-yards4-26 5-30


    Rushing: Briar Woods—Cory Colder 29-183, 4TD; Trace McSorley 7-110, TD; Hunter Ford 4-22; Chris Larco 2-16; Cam Serigne 2-7; Brandon Polk 2-6; Dillon Blevins 2-1; Tristan Miller 1-(-1); Darryll Gadsden 1-(-5). Courtland—Anton Jenkins 11-21; Brandon Mason 6-10; Zach Braswell 1-7; Eric Washington 2-5; Darien Grant 4-4.

    Passing: Briar Woods—Trace McSorley 5-10-1 126, TD. Courtland—Eric Washington 11-20-0 163, 2TD.

    Receiving: Briar Woods—Cam Serigne 1-42, TD; J.T. Logan 1-38; Brandon Polk 1-20; Devin Ramos 1-16; Cory Colder 1-10. Courtland—Chris Carpenter 5-106, TD; Darien Grant 4-44, TD; Michael Robinson 1-11; Brandon Mason 1-2.

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045