POTOMAC – Bullis School quarterback Christian Veilleux took the field for the very first time in blue and gold on Aug. 30 as the Bulldogs opened the 2019 football season against Archbishop Carroll High School from Washington, D.C.
Veilleux transferred from Buffalo, New York, and even though it is his first season behind center at Bullis, the junior is familiar with his new team’s recent history. He knows how talented his teammates are, and how disappointing last season’s Interstate Athletic Conference Championship loss was against Georgetown Prep.
He also knows that when he dons that Bullis uniform, expectations will always be high.
Veilleux delivered on those expectations in his first game, as he went 15 for 27 for 121 yards and three touchdowns. Archbishop Carroll brought the defensive pressure on several occasions and forced Veilleux to scramble, but in the end, it was Bullis’s defense that got the last laugh and stopped the Lions’ two-point conversion attempt, giving the Bulldogs a 35-33 victory to start the season.
“I would have been fine going into overtime, because we had something good going on offense, so I had confidence in my guys,” said Veilleux. “Our defense held up on the two-point conversion, so that solved that.”
The defense was also responsible for six of the points on the scoreboard. Bullis senior Caleb Robinson is a running back and linebacker hybrid, and he displayed his strengths on both sides of the ball as he scored both an offensive and a defensive touchdown. Robinson rumbled for a 7-yard score before flipping into the end zone in the first quarter; he later intercepted Lions quarterback Jordan Harris for a 41-yard pick-six.
In the third quarter, though, it looked as though Bullis would not have the opportunity to win, much less take the game into overtime. The Lions had been pounding the ball all evening as running backs Lorenzo Green and Elijah Solomon combined for 19 carries and 177 yards.
The Bulldogs entered the second half with a seven-point lead, but both Green and Solomon scored in the third quarter as Bullis’s offense sputtered. Green’s go-ahead touchdown came at the tail end of the third quarter; the game clock displayed all zeroes as the senior danced over the goal line.
Bullis Head Coach Pat Cilento attributed that slow third quarter to the fact that five starters did not play due to injury. Instead, younger and less-experienced players took their place.
“We had two freshmen on the offensive line at that time, so I think that had a lot to do with it. And we were tired,” said Cilento. “Once you have five guys who were starters last year sitting in street clothes, it’s hard.”
Meanwhile, Archbishop Carroll’s defense continued to hassle Veilleux, and suddenly the Bulldogs were staring down a fourth-and-one on Carroll’s 37-yard line. Cilento decided to go for it on fourth down, and the gutsy decision paid off when running back Canaan Tomlin darted up the middle of the pile for a first down.
Then, Veilleux connected on a long pass to senior wide receiver Ashton Allen. The senior had been having a relatively quiet game before he caught Veilleux’s pass in stride in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown. Cilento called for a two-point conversion, and Veilleux slipped past the Carroll defense to tack on another two points and give the lead back to Bullis.
Senior receiver Darion Crawford helped extend that lead when he caught Veilleux’s pass at the corner of the endzone and kept both feet in bounds for his second touchdown of the game.
However, Archbishop Carroll did not go away quietly. The Lions marched purposefully down the field as Solomon muscled his way through the Bullis defenders, and quarterback Robert Lawson Jr. helped lead the charge. Lawson and Harris switched in and out at quarterback, but it was the sophomore who called his own number when his team needed it the most.
Instead of handing off to Solomon again, Lawson kept the ball himself and ran diagonally into the left side of the end zone with 13 seconds left on the clock. The players on Archbishop Carroll’s sidelines rejoiced enthusiastically, but their gleefulness was short-lived, as Bullis’s defense denied Green at the goal line a few seconds later for a failed two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game.
“Our guys have to make plays if we want to win; that’s all,” said Lions Head Coach Robert Harris. “There were just certain plays that got away from us. You just want kids to make plays; we didn’t and they did, and they came out two points ahead of us.”
The Bulldogs have an early bye week this season and two weeks to prepare to host Archbishop Spalding on Sept. 13. For Cilento, though, this early bye week is ideal.
“We’ve got to get healthy. For our schedule it works out good for us,” said Cilento. “Spalding is going to be an unbelievable task; they’re very good. We’ve just got to prepare for them and try to beat them.”