Handley’s offense shreds Fauquier
WARRENTON — Standing outside the Handley locker room after the game Friday night, junior Justin Washington wanted to get his interviews over with as quickly as possible.
“I’m trying to get hype with my team,” said Washington more than once as he glanced anxiously towards the door with music blasting from the other side and shouts of joy ringing out.
If Washington keeps having games like the one he had against Fauquier, there will be plenty of opportunities for the Judges, and their fans, to get hyped up this season.
Facing what was supposed to be the best defense it had seen so far, Handley did what it’s done best through three games this season — score.
Washington went 69 yards on a pitch-and-catch three plays into the game and added a backbreaking 92-yard kickoff return in the second half to help the Judges to a 45-21 win over the host Falcons.
“We’ve got a good offense and we just kept executing,” said Washington, who finished with 81 receiving yards and also added an interception on defense. “Our team just came out and did it.”
It was the third time in three games that the Judges (3-0) scored at least 45 points (they put up 63 in a win over Harrisonburg last week) and they did it in a variety of ways.
Washington’s opening score was followed by a 64-yard pick-six by linebacker Ben Nelson on Fauquier’s opening drive of the game, junior Dontae Mauck scored on runs of four and 14 yards and junior Jarett Cestaro even got in on the action, hauling in a deflected pass from quarterback Will Dearing in the corner of the end zone.
Handley finished with 315 total yards, compared to 220 for Fauquier, and never trailed in the game.
“Offensively we were a lot more conservative, we felt like our defense was playing pretty well,” Rayburn said. “I felt like we took a step on defense, for the most part we contained them, and our special teams came up big. And I think we feel confident about our offense being able to go in and hopefully score when the opportunities were there.”
The Judges raced out to a 17-0 lead behind the touchdowns from Washington and Nelson and a 25-yard field goal from junior Nick Marshall, but Fauquier (1-2) fought right back.
Capitalizing on a fumbled snap on a punt and a Dearing interception that each gave them short fields to work with, the Falcons scored on a 10-yard pass from Louis Heisler to Leif Heitzel and a 4-yard run by running back Todd Jordan to pull within 17-14 early in the second quarter.
But just as it’s done all season, Handley quickly responded.
Mauck (six carries for 57 yards, two catches for 42 yards) returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards, then added a 31-yard run, converted a first down on a fourth-and-three run and then scampered in from three yards out to push the lead back to 10.
“We knew the way [Fauquier] was lining up there was going to be a time when they started taking people out of the box and started spreading them out to try to prevent the big play and we had to be able to run the ball,” said Rayburn, whose team rushed for 143 yards on 29 carries in the game. “I was proud of how we ran the ball, I thought our line blocked well.”
Coming out of halftime still down 24-14, Fauquier had a pair of chances to climb back into the game in the third quarter, but each time the Judges rose to the occasion.
Senior defensive back Jason Morgan picked off Heisler (one of three interceptions in the game for Handley) to set up Dearing’s touchdown pass to Cestaro and, after the Falcons again pulled within 10 following a 1-yard quarterback keeper by Heisler, Washington then put the game away with his kick return.
Fielding the ball at his own 8-yard line, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound junior broke up field before cutting hard towards the left sideline, picking up a big block from Mauck and then outracing everyone to the end zone.
“He made a play,” said Fauquier coach Jaime Carter about Washington’s kick return. “Obviously it was not real good coverage, but that kid is a burner and he’s tough. Can’t take anything away from the play he made.”
Washington would add an interception on the next series when he dove to scoop up a ball that was deflected by fellow defensive back Brian Thomas and the Handley defense did the rest, twice forcing the Falcons to turn the ball over on downs with sacks.
For the game the Judges totaled five sacks and limited Fauquier to just 52 rushing yards as a team. Dearing finished 10 for 17 for 172 yards and the two scores and junior running back D.J. Frisby ran for a team-high 62 yards.
Rayburn was happy to let Washington and his teammate celebrate after the game, but he noted that the Judges had a long way to go still to reach their goals.
“I told them, ‘Last year we won three games, so do you want to go 3-7?’ We’ve got to keep going and keep working and keep moving forward,” Rayburn said. “Coach [Jim] Gaynor always tells them that every game you win, the next game gets that much bigger. We can’t let up.”
— Contact Kevin Trudgeon at firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1