Pioneers snap skid with 49-6 win over Brentsville
Posted: October 13, 2012
Special to The Winchester Star
NOKESVILLE — Last Friday night the Millbrook football team found itself down 23 points after three quarters and, despite a late rally, it was just too big of a hole to rebound from.
A week later the Pioneers, and more specifically the combination of quarterback Justin Neff to wide receiver T.J. Bruce, made sure that wasn’t going to happen again.
The Pioneers scored early and often and Neff hit Bruce with four picture-perfect touchdown passes to lead Millbrook to a 49-6 non-district road thumping of Brentsville that snapped the Pioneers’ two-game losing skid.
“I thought our kids played well, they did a nice job,” Millbrook coach Reed Prosser said. “They executed well, played hard, and that’s really all we can ask from them.
“Brentsville did a really good job of stacking the box so we had to pass. We struggled running the ball a little bit in the first half and I thought Justin Neff did a really nice job and all four of our receivers played really well. T.J. obviously had a huge game.”
Though the offense put on a show scoring seven touchdowns, the defense was just as dominate. Millbrook (4-3) did not allow a score until late in the game when most, if not all, of the starters had left the game and were cheering from the sidelines.
When they were in the game however, the starters were stout. They allowed only 148 yards of total offense, registered three quarterback sacks, and in Brentsville's 11 possessions the Pioneers had four interceptions and stopped the Tigers on fourth down four times.
“I thought our defense did a really nice job of stepping up and making some big stops on fourth down,” Prosser said. “I’m really proud of our linebackers, they accepted challenges and did a really, really nice job.”
It was the defense that set the stage early on for the Pioneers. On Brentsville’s third play from scrimmage linebacker Devon Sharp picked off an errant pass and returned it to the TIgers 39-yard line. Six plays. and two penalties later, Neff found Bruce racing down the near sidelines and hit him in stride for a 42-yard strike to make it 7-0 less then two minutes into the contest.
That would become a theme for the game, especially in the first half.
On their next possession Brentsville (0-7) put together a nice little nine-play drive that took them into Pioneer territory, but the result was the same when Rze Culbreath collected a tipped pass for Millbrook and raced the other direction to the Tigers’ 40.
Three plays later Neff again found Bruce just as wide open as before and this time the duo connected on a 33-yard scoring pass to make it 14-0 with 4:35 left in the first.
Brentsville’s next two drives both resulted in the Tigers turning the ball over on downs after failed fourth-down attempts, the second coming near midfield and setting the Pioneers up for yet another score.
After the Millbrook defense stuffed a fourth-and-one dive play, the Pioneer offense took over at the Brentsville 44-yard line. It only took Neff four plays to add to the Pioneer lead and he did it by spreading the wealth, this time finding Culbreath on the far side from 23 yards out and a comfortable 21-0 advantage with 5:07 left in the half.
The two teams exchanged punts and just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse for the Tigers, they did.
With less a minute left in the half and facing another fourth down near midfield, Brentsville rolled the dice and tried a fake punt.
Millbrook sniffed it out and stuffed the play dead at the Pioneer 41-yard line, but with only 27 seconds left in the half the Tigers figured no harm was done, especially when Millbrook was assessed a five-yard penalty on the first play.
However, Neff quickly hit Taylor James down the far sideline for a gain of 20 yards.
With just one play left in the half and 44 yards from the end zone, the odds seemed stacked against the Pioneers adding to their lead, but this was T.J. Bruce’s night and he made sure everyone knew it.
Seemingly impossible, especially having already scored on two long touchdown passes, Bruce somehow got behind the last line of defenders and on the last play of the half was able to gather another perfect pass and score from 44 yards out to make it 28-0 at the break.
Bruce finished the game with the four scores and 157 yards on just five catches. Neff completed 12 passes for 226 yards and five scores.
“We worked really hard during this week of practice, everybody put in a lot of work, a lot of extra time after practice to get this win,” Bruce said. “This is a team effort, there was good blocking up front and Justin was just slinging it, he had a good arm today.
“We’re looking forward to our Homecoming game next week against James Wood, we’re really ready for that.”
In the second half the running game started to get on track for the Pioneers. Running back Justin Anderson, who had only 32 yards at the half, broke loose on a few big runs in the second half, including a 75-yard touchdown run. He finished the night with 175 yards on 16 carries and two scores (both in the second half).
Anderson got into the scoring column early in the second half when he capped a two-play, 51 yard drive by scoring from one yard out to make it 35-0. It was his 50-yard run that gave the Pioneers a first-and-goal.