On Saturday, Annandale beat Falls Church as the two high school football teams played out the last 5 minutes and 21 seconds of Friday night’s game, which had been suspended due to a nearby shooting.
Under partly cloudy skies in Virginia, the two teams returned to the field with Annandale leading Falls Church 13-12.
There were only a few minutes to go as both the Annandale Atoms and the Falls Church Jaguars provided some last minute drama.
With only 1:30 left in the game, the Jaguars scored, grabbing an five point lead that threatened to spoil Annandale’s “Senior Game” — the final home game of the season.
But the Atoms promptly answered the late challenge, scoring a rollicking 80 yard touchdown run. The Atoms then added a 2-point conversion to win 21-18.
“In the end, the win is all of our students, all of our fans are safe, ” Principal Shawn DeRose said, commenting on Friday night’s game suspension. “The safety of our students, our fans, our community are top of mind.”
Parents expressed joy when they saw athletes back on the field completing the game, but when asked about the Friday night incident, they discussed concerns in the moment of tension.
Some parents at Saturday’s game said there could have been better communications when the stadium was evacuated the night before. According to reports, students were directed off the field first before fans in the stands were told of the nearby incident and game suspension.
“Some people in the stands were running out, we didn’t know where the threat was, where it was coming from — were we running towards the threat, rather than away from it?” said Jose Mercado, parent of a junior on the Annandale team.
“It was a little unnerving… Do we stay in the stands? Do we go into the building? Which direction should we go in?” said Melissa Pacak, parent of a Annandale team senior.
Pacak suggested that the school might consider, in addition to student safety and fire drills, that there should be an evacuation plan for the school stadium.
The school principal said he is open to any ideas that improve safety.
“If you can find a silver lining in any of these unfortunate events, it’s always about opportunity for us to reflect on, get feedback and make improvements along the way,” said Principal DeRose.