KING GEORGE — The Orange County High School football team was in position to open the season with a road victory over a Region 4B foe Thursday night.

The Hornets were facing third-and-goal from the King George 3 yard-line with 15 seconds remaining. But senior quarterback Walker Johnson tripped and went to the ground as he dropped back to pass with time running out.

Johnson was able to get to the line of scrimmage in time for a fourth-down snap from the Foxes’ 8-yard line, but he didn’t realize it was fourth down and spiked the ball.

The result: a 31-27 defeat for the Hornets in the season opener for both teams.

“I thought it was second down,” Orange head coach Jesse Lohr said of the sequence when Johnson lost five yards. “The clock said second down. We’ve been running this motion action to run the ball and it’s 15 seconds and we’ve got no timeouts left. I’m scared with three yards to go to come up short and not have another play. We tried to ball-fake our base play and throw it to the flats. I thought it was there. I don’t know what happened.”

Orange (0-1) was paced by senior running back Jaylen Alexander, who rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He hauled in a 31-yard screen pass in the second quarter, fumbled and recovered it in the end zone for another score. He had 71 receiving yards on three receptions, including a 31-yarder on the final drive.

Alexander went sprinting down the sideline and into the end zone but was called out of bounds at the Foxes’ 18-yard line.

“I didn’t think he [stepped out of bounds] but I didn’t have the best angle,” Lohr said. “We had some plays go our way and we had some plays that didn’t go our way.”

The Hornets struggled defending the Foxes on the ground and through the air. King George junior quarterback Charles Mutter, a Brooke Point transfer, passed for 341 yards and a touchdown. Mutter also rushed for two scores.

He connected with junior receiver Von Whiting four times for 181 yards, including a 74-yard bomb for a touchdown.

The Foxes led 24-14 at halftime before the Hornets stormed back and took a 27-24 lead in the third quarter on Hylton Hale’s 51-yard touchdown run.

King George closed the scoring on Gabe Aley’s 8-yard touchdown run with 2:06 to go, setting the stage for the Hornets’ final attempt.

Orange County returns to action next Friday at North Stafford.

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