HAMPTON, VA. – Stone Bridge football coach Mickey Thompson stood on the 30-meter line with his hands in his pockets, observing another talented team moving one by one in midfield and receiving a second medal.
For the third time in four years, the Bulldogs were headed south from northern Virginia, where they often dominated the power and speed of Highland Springs High School in Henrico County during the 1980s. Virginia Class 5 championship game. And for the third time in four years, the Bulldogs were defeated by the Springers and dropped from 37 to 26.
"I just do not know what to say after games like this," Thompson said. "These guys work for three or four years. . . . They worked hard to get here and they played as champions today. So, I can not say anything for the moment. "
Stone Bridge, which opened in 2000, has 1 to 6 wins in the state championships. The only title of the program was published in 2007.
Saturday afternoon at the University of Hampton, the second quarter events were dramatic for the Bulldogs (12-3).
Just under seven minutes into the second quarter, the Bulldogs placed the Springers fourth on the goal line. They sprinted on the field as a sign of celebration, thinking they had a chance to gain momentum.
But on the first and tenth of the 1, Tatum tried to throw the ball and was called for an intentional grounding. Since he's released the pass from the end zone, Highland Springs has been rewarded with safety. Part after a major stop, the Bulldogs were 9-7.
From there, things started to collapse for Stone Bridge. The Springers took the safety kick and scored a few games later to bring the score to 16-7. They made a quick stop and then ran into another hole to push their lead to 23-7 with 1:30 to go before the break. Suddenly, the match was moving away from the Bulldogs, just five minutes from the goal line.
"That little bit, it was the game here," Thompson said. "If you remove the second quarter, you played a football game equal to three quarters. But that's where we escaped.
The Springers felt that an opportunity arose after the safety and had jumped on it, thus counteracting the physical appearance of the Bulldogs with unstoppable speed. Stone Bridge's racing game, which helped him play nearly every opponent in northern Virginia this year, was mastered by the Springers defense. They left the field at half time with the unsatisfied and somewhat confused look of one team at a time in the hole and unanswered.
The Bulldogs offense was played with passion in the second half and Tatum finished with 257 passing yards and a touchdown. They cut their heads 10 points twice. But the Springers were too difficult to handle, reacting with a touchdown on the next possession both times.