FORK UNION — Down three to Liberty Christian Academy with a little over four minutes to go and with the ball on its own 10-yard line, Fork Union Military Academy turned to star quarterback Christian Hackenberg to drive the Blue Devils into scoring position.
He delivered. Using 10 plays, all Hackenberg completions, Fork Union drove 61 yards and set up for the potential game-tying 40-yard field goal. However, Dylan McCormick’s kick flew wide left, and FUMA fell to LCA, 36-33, on Friday afternoon.
The loss snapped Fork Union’s six-game winning streak, as the Bulldogs picked up their third win in a row.
“They’re a great football team,” said LCA head coach Frank Rocco of FUMA. “They are a complete team and when they don’t make mistakes, which they didn’t do today, they are almost impossible to beat.”
As expected, two of the top private school teams in the state gave the fans in attendance, which included Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien, plenty to watch and it started early with LCA.
Just 15 seconds into the first quarter, Bulldog quarterback Matthew Lewis hooked up with Jon Brado for an 80-yard touchdown to give LCA (6-1) the early 7-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Tyrone McDade went 83 yards to the house to tie the game at 7-7 before Hackenberg and the FUMA offense even had a chance to take the field.
LCA settled in behind running back Carrington Mosley, who didn’t score a touchdown, but set up several Bulldog scores, as FUMA (6-2) had no answer for his physical presence. Mosley ran for 236 yards on 26 carries, averaging just over nine yards per carry.
“That’s what he is, he’s a grinder,” Rocco said of his senior running back. “He’s very strong and kind of deceptive. He knows how to get angles and plow himself through tight holes.”
Trailing 21-13 late in the second quarter, the Blue Devils found some life as T.J. Dudley forced a Bulldog fumble, which Tyrone McDade recovered and returned 50 yards for a score to pull FUMA to within one at 21-20. Two minutes later, Hackenberg got to show off his arm strength, tossing a 65-yard TD pass to Chrystian Brown to give FUMA its first lead of the day.
It was one of the bright spots for the Penn State commit, who completed 18-of-28 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown but threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.
“We didn’t play the way we are capable of playing,” FUMA head coach Mickey Sullivan said. “They are a great football team, it was a great football game and we put them in too many situations to score.”
LCA retook the lead just before halftime as Brado took an end around and scored from 10 yards out to put the Bulldogs up 27-26 at the half.
Both defenses stiffened in the second half, leading to just six total points in the third quarter, and the Blue Devils found themselves down 33-26 heading into the final 12 minutes.
Trailing by 10 with just over six minutes to play, Hackenberg rumbled into the end zone from 10 yards out to cut LCA’s lead to three with plenty of time left. FUMA’s defense forced the Bulldogs to punt, but the Blue Devils could not convert on the game-tying field goal as time expired.
“When you have the top two teams in the state play, it’s going to be a war,” Sullivan said. “The team that’s going to win is the team that doesn’t make mistakes and they made less mistakes than we did.”
Nick King paced the Blue Devils on the ground, rushing for 97 yards and two touchdowns. UVa commit Malcolm Cook made his presence felt on defense, totaling eight tackles and one pass breakup for FUMA.
Lewis and Zach Clinton split time at quarterback for LCA with each player throwing seven passes. Brado caught four passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns, while B.J. Farrow also caught four passes, totaling 92 yards and a score for the Bulldogs.
“Today was a total team effort,” Rocco said. “We are just so proud of everyone and just blessed to come in here and eek out a win.”
Liberty Christian will host Hargrave Military Academy next week while Fork Union will look to bounce back on the road against Collegiate.