* No. 5 Hylton 27,
No. 12 Osbourn Park 10
Hylton's 27-10 home win over Osbourn Park in the Virginia AAA Division 6 Northwestern Region championship Friday night was not so much a comeback victory as it was a triumph in restraint.
Down 10-0 in the second quarter to a team they had razed 49-0 back in September, the momentarily stunned Bulldogs stuck with the game plan, caught a break of their own early in the second half and eventually coasted to their fifth consecutive region title to set up a state semifinal rematch with Thomas Dale (12-0), the team that knocked Hylton out of the state semis last year.
"Sometimes, offensively, you panic a little bit and say, geez, we can't really get in a groove; we have to do something right now," Hylton Coach Lou Sorrentino said. "I really tried to stay away from that in my play-calling when we were down 10-0. That was my main concern -- that we don't start pressing.
"That's the time I need to be coolest and say, 'Let's play football, let's coach.' But I couldn't have scripted it better" than how the game played out.
The script went like this: After muffing two punts that set up a field goal and touchdown for the Yellow Jackets (10-2) in the first half, Hylton (11-1) drove 71 yards for a touchdown, a journey keyed by an electrifying 34-yard run by senior quarterback Jeff Overton when the Bulldogs faced first and 20 from midfield.
Hylton received the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 70 yards for a score, with Overton completing two third-down passes on the drive, one a 24-yarder to senior Jerome Quinata and the other a 7-yard play action touchdown to senior Maurice Coleman.
They were the only two passing attempts of the game for Overton, who has rushed 182 times this season -- occasionally while lined up at running back -- while throwing just 31 times.
If he had his way, those numbers might be reversed.
"I love throwing passes even though I'm not that good of a passer," said Overton, who had a hand in 26 of his team's 27 points. "Passing is more fun to me than running because I run all the time. Sometimes I tell coach, 'Let's throw a pass, let's spice it up a little bit.' When I complete a pass, that really gives me a little extra boost, too, because . . . the defense has to respect that."
After Overton's scoring pass gave the Bulldogs a 12-10 lead, junior James Salazar fell on a rolling kickoff that the Yellow Jackets failed to cover to set up a short touchdown drive and send the Bulldogs well on their way to a rematch with Dale and a 12-0 series record against Osbourn Park.
"I thought our kids played a real inspired second half instead of letting some of the negative things that happened in the first half get to us," said Sorrentino, who was appearing in a region championship for the sixth consecutive season.
"We had just let them score and they went right back and scored again and kind of put us in a bind," said Osbourn Park Coach Brian Beaty, whose team went from being up 10-6 at halftime to down 20-10 late in the third quarter without taking a snap. "They went right at us and had us kind of guessing a little bit."
Osbourn Park will lose 21 seniors off the best team in the 27-year history of the school, the squad that beat Gar-Field and Woodbridge for the first time since the late 1980s. The question now is whether the Yellow Jackets are a one-year wonder or a budding Cedar Run District power. Or perhaps even a Prince William County power -- if the Cardinal and Cedar Run had been all one district, the Yellow Jackets would have been co-champs, with Hylton.
"I think some young men got a taste of what they can accomplish, and I'm hoping that will carry on into the offseason," Beaty said. "They were tremendous. They were close, we just didn't get it done, but I think the program will grow from what they did."