Lake Braddock beats Westfield, 12-7, on Matt Zanellato's touchdown catch

Lake Braddock's Matt Zanellatto hauled in 10 passes for over 200 yards to lead the Bulldogs to a 12-7 win over Westfield.
By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 17, 2010; 12:10 AM

As he ran an out-and-up pattern in the second quarter, Lake Braddock wide receiver Matt Zanellato said he had an idea that he had been run out of bounds.

But as he grappled with a Westfield cornerback, the senior's sole focus was on coming back to the arching pass that floated his way. Zanellato curled his route back onto the field, made the catch and ran to the end zone to complete the 50-yard touchdown. It was not until nearly a minute later, however, that the senior realized the touchdown would count.

The bizarre sequence - officials called pass interference and ruled Zanellato had a right to come back onto the field and make the catch because he had been forced out of bounds - proved to be the game-winning score, as the fifth-ranked Bruins (3-0) eked out a 12-7 win over No. 12 Westfield on Thursday night in Chantilly.

"I had a feeling there would be a flag on the play," said Zanellato, who had 10 catches for 207 yards. "But who knows. You can't take any plays off, so I just took it and ran it into the end zone."

Lake Braddock quarterback Michael Nebrich said he did not even see the touchdown occur.

"I had no clue he scored," Nebrich said. "When the ref came over and said it was defensive pass interference and we had a touchdown I was like, 'Wait, when did that happen?' So, hey, it worked out for us."

The touchdown would be the last score of the game, as neither Westfield (1-2) nor Lake Braddock could finish drives in the final two quarters. Lake Braddock missed two field goals - a 49-yarder and a 44-yarder - and both of its extra-point attempts.

Westfield took the lead in the second quarter on a nine-yard touchdown pass to Mitch Castleberry after the defense forced a Bruins fumble on the 10-yard line.

Otherwise, however, the Bulldogs struggled to move the ball.

Late in the fourth quarter, Westfield appeared to have momentum and looked to be on a game-winning drive. But facing a fourth and four from the Lake Braddock 31-yard line with just more than three minutes to play, the Bulldogs sideline was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, pushing the ball back 15 yards and forcing a punt.

The Bruins took over on their own 3-yard line but were able to pick up a first down and run out the clock.

Nebrich, who threw five interceptions last season in a win over Westfield, rid himself of those mistakes on Thursday, passing for 278 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He also ran for the first score of the game - a 14-yard run in the first quarter.

"I feel good, actually," Nebrich said. "At the end of the game when we took the knee I was like, 'You know what, I didn't throw any picks.' So that was the win for me tonight."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company