The Washington Post

Pioneers lose their quarterbac­k early but pull away late to knock off Bruins


Patriot senior wide receiver Gabe Bigbee didn’t care that the team’s offense was sputtering without senior quarterbac­k Sam Fernandez, who left Thursday’s game at Forest Park with a shoulder injury after just three plays.

Bigbee didn’t care that the athlete in Fernandez’s place, senior Scott Bateman, had taken more practice reps at tight end than he had under center.

The only thing that concerned Bigbee at the start of the fourth quarter was a belief in the Pioneers’ system — a faith he rode all the way to a 78-yard game-sealing touchdown in Patriot’s 37-20 win.

“We had been running — I’m not going to say the name of the play — but we had been running me on the jet sweeps the whole game,” Bigbee said. “I came over to my coach. . . . I was like: ‘Run this play. Run this play. I promise you it will work.’ Coincident­ally, it worked.”

Bigbee’s fourth quarter, which featured more than 100 all-purpose yards, was further evidence of the presnap philosophy that has turned the Pioneers (2- 0) into one of Prince William County’s top offenses. Motioning receivers, diverse route trees and post-snap options are the rule for the program, not the exception.

Patriot knew its veteran playmakers would be tested without Fernandez, who injured his throwing shoulder on a firstquart­er run. Senior running back Quentin Harrison carried much of the early-game load, rumbling to the first of his two touchdowns on a 57-yard carry on the second play of the night. But the Pioneers struggled in the second and third quarters and led Forest Park (1-2) by only nine points entering the final period.

“You are built to weather the storm,” Coach Sean Finnerty told his team at halftime. “No excuses.”

Twenty-two seniors appear on the Pioneers’ roster, allowing for a complex playbook. But the presnap reads that give Patriot a dynamic offense were tailored to Fernandez, whose timetable to return is uncertain.

Bateman, who has long studied Fernandez’s mannerisms and signal-calling, was ready to fill in.

“I prepared myself for the past two years in case anything like this ever happened,” Bateman said.

For Patriot, that’s just football. “We went in with Sam; we came out with Scott. That’s what happens in football — you deal with adversity,” Bigbee said. “That ‘W’ right there, that’s for you, Sam.”

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