Shortly after 10:30 p.m., with the stadium lights at West Potomac having turned off a second time, Mount Vernon head coach Monty Fritts gave his postgame address in the dark, though the prospects for the Majors’ 2019 season remained mighty bright.
“This ain’t no fluke,” Fritts told his players.
Mount Vernon traveled to West Potomac on Friday and defeated its Richmond Highway rival, 32-27, in the Gunston District opener for both teams. The Majors led by 18 before the Wolverines added a pair of touchdowns in the final 2 minutes.
Mount Vernon improved to 5-1 and has won five straight since dropping its opener against C.D. Hylton. West Potomac fell to 2-4.
The game lasted well over three hours, thanks to an avalanche of penalty flags, West Potomac’s Hall of Fame halftime ceremony and the stadium lights turning off at 10 p.m. The Wolverines scored a touchdown, cutting the Majors’ lead to 32-20 with 1:45 remaining, and were attempting a two-point conversion when the lights cut off.
Mount Vernon defensive back Jaiden Harris intercepted the two-point pass attempt in the end zone and the stadium went dark, leading to fans on both sides to turn on their cell phone lights.
“To be honest, I thought something fell over my helmet, so I wiped off my facemask,” Harris said, “then I realized the lights were out.”
Play resumed after an 18-minute delay and West Potomac scored another touchdown, but it was too little, too late. After the game ended, the stadium lights turned off a second time before the teams left the field.
“I think it just validates what we did the last few years,” Fritts said about Friday’s win. “In my opinion, a lot of people kind of just dismissed what we’ve done with the program the last few years because we have not consistently beat some of the upper echelon teams in the area. … That’s a pretty good West Potomac team. I felt like we really dominated the game – I know the end, it was kind of weird, the lights going out – but I think we really kind of made a statement, especially to our district that I think we’re the best team in the district. It just proves … how much the kids have transformed the program in four years.
“The first year against West Potomac, we could barely stay on the field with them. Now, to consistently beat them in back-to-back years [helps] kind of prove that we’re good.”
Prior to last season, Mount Vernon had not beaten West Potomac since 2006. Fritts’ teams fell to West Potomac at home (2016) and on the road (2017) before finally snapping the streak last fall with a dominant 47-7 win at Mount Vernon.
On Friday, the Majors made it two in a row over West Potomac — with this victory coming on the Wolverines’ home field.
“It feels really good,” said Mount Vernon lineman Elijah Rucker, an all-region selection last season and four-year starter for the Majors. “I remember my sophomore year; our goal was to beat West Po on this field and we didn’t do it. Now, we finally overcame that goal. … We didn’t have home field advantage. On the road, it’s us, our bros, just us, together. We proved we can stay together and beat [West Potomac].”
Rucker, who plays on both the offensive and defensive lines, has been a key cog in Mount Vernon’s resurrection under Fritts.
“As a freshman, [Rucker] was just wide-eyed and excited to be on the field,” Fritts said. “As a sophomore, he was just slowly learning … (and) now he’s our leader. We had some injuries tonight and we’re throwing some guys in and we just trust that Elijah is going to get guys in the right position on the offensive line. Defensive line-wise, people can’t run the football on us and it’s because of Elijah Rucker. We’re able to focus on stopping the pass game and keeping (West Potomac quarterback) JT (Mayo) in the pocket because we know, at the end of the day, people can’t run on him. He’s so good of a nose tackle and a 5 technique, people just can’t push him off the ball and he just stops the run.”
While Rucker helped control the trenches for Mount Vernon, Jordyn Reid took care of putting points on the board. The senior running back and receiver scored three touchdowns, including a 4-yard run with 8:21 left in the second quarter that gave the Majors an 18-7 lead and ended with Reid plowing over a West Potomac defender in the end zone.
“[The Wolverines] made me mad because before that play, they took off my helmet, they wanted to yank on my facemask,” Reid said. “That ticked me off and I didn’t see the flag at first. The ref threw it after they play. We went back at it and [the defender] wanted some so I gave him what he asked for. That’s all I can do.”
Reid said the West Potomac player he trucked was not the same player who previously ripped off his helmet.
“You’re not on my team, you don’t have my colors on, I’m sorry,” Reid said, “it’s just what happens.”
Officials flagged West Potomac for numerous personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties throughout the contest.
“They were playing our game,” Reid said. “We weren’t playing their game. We came out and did what we have to do. They wanted to keep holding our facemasks and yanking on us. That’s what happens when you play a good team and you can’t beat them. You start to cheat and cheat yourself and that’s not helping anybody but the other team.”
Reid carried 10 times for 53 yards and two touchdowns, including a 6-yard scoring run with 9:09 left in the third quarter that helped increase the Mount Vernon lead to 25-7. He also hauled in four receptions for 21 yards and a score.
Mount Vernon quarterback Fonnae Webb, who sat out the first series for disciplinary reasons according to Fitts, completed 3 of 5 pass attempts for 22 yards and a touchdown. He carried 12 times for 108 yards, including a spinning 44-yard touchdown run with 7:55 left in the game, helping give the Majors a 32-14 advantage.
You can see why Fonnae is Fonnae,” Fritts said, “because that touchdown run he had was unbelievable.”
Mount Vernon linebacker Robert Overbey scored the game’s first points when he returned a fumble about 30 yards for a touchdown with 4:31 in the first quarter. West Potomac answered on its next possession when Mayo connected with Deandre Doherty for a 50-yard score, putting the Wolverines ahead 7-6.
Mount Vernon took the lead for good when Webb found Reid for a 7-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the first quarter, putting the Majors up 12-7.
Mayo completed 19 of 30 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once.
Doherty, AJ Stamos and Micah McDonald each caught a touchdown pass. McDonald also scored on a 1-yard run shortly before the lights went off.
Next up for West Potomac is a home game against Annandale at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Mount Vernon will host Centreville.
“I think it’s a big game,” Fritts said. “I think Centreville is a good place for us to see where we compare to against the Occoquan and the Northern Region. I feel very confident. I just think our defense is so good. Offensively, we’ve always been good, but our ability to just play defense and run the football, that’s good playoff football. I really like where we are.”
Notes: Hayfield fell to Chantilly 34-7 on Friday to fall to 0-6 on the season … T.C. Williams (5-2, 1-0) is tied with Mount Vernon for first place in the Gunston District.