HAMPTON, Va. — For four exhausting quarters, 20th-ranked North Stafford slugged it out with the three-time defending Virginia AAA Division 5 champion.
Trailing by a point and two yards away from a monumental victory in the state semifinals, the Wolverines went for the finishing blow in overtime.
But the Phantoms stopped North Stafford quarterback Austin Grebe inches short of the goal line on a two-point conversion try to escape with a 27-26 victory on Saturday afternoon at Darling Stadium.
Phoebus (12-2) earned a chance to play for its fourth straight Division 5 state title Dec. 10 at the University of Virginia against No. 9 South County (11-3), which beat Hanover, 38-22. North Stafford, making its second state semifinal appearance, finished 10-3.
The Wolverines called timeout before the decisive two-point try.
“That’s what we all wanted to do,” Grebe said through tears afterward. “We wanted that to be the last play of the game. I thought I was in the end zone, but that’s my fault. I have to get in the end zone more to make sure I don’t put the game in the refs’ hands.”
The final play ended a taut game in which both teams put together scoring drives in a wild final quarter.
Phoebus pulled ahead, 20-17, with 22 seconds left in regulation on Eric Enderson’s nine-yard pass to Miles Givers. But a blocked extra point kept North Stafford within a field goal, and the Wolverines started the ensuing possession near midfield after Phoebus was flagged for excessive celebration on its touchdown.
After a pass completion put North Stafford at the Phoebus 28, Grebe lined up with five seconds left to attempt a 46-yard field goal. His try hit the cross bar and bounced short, but Phoebus was called for roughing the kicker.
Grebe booted a 31-yard attempt with no time on the clock to set up overtime.
Phoebus’s Tony Pittman scored on a five-yard run, and Grebe hit Brandon Ravenel for a six-yard touchdown in the extra period.
After a timeout, the Wolverines lined up to go for the win.
“We were gassed on that last drive,” North Stafford Coach Joe Mangano said. “From two yards out, that was our best opportunity to win the game, so we went for two.”
Phoebus outgained North Stafford, 236-131, on the ground, led by Pittman’s 179 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries. North Stafford’s Kevin Daniels finished with 115 rushing yards, and Anthony Shegog scored on a 27-yard reception and a 12-yard run.