Rubbing back Dennis Berry carried more times in one game yesterday than he had all season and set up two fourth-quarter touchdowns to give Gar-Field a 14-7 come-from-behind triumph over Robinson in a Virginia AAA state semifinal playoff game in Woodbridge.
The Indians (9-3-1) will play Hampton (13-0) for the Virginia AAA state title next Saturday in Newport News. Hampton gained the final by beating Douglas Freeman of Richmond, 7-0, on Dennis Perkins' one-yard scoring run with 6:42 to play.
Berry didn't even get his hands on the ball until late in the third quarter. After backfield mate Amos Jordan fumbled twice in a row inside the Robinson 10, losing the second miscue to the Rams' Rick Gilbertson, Gar-Field coach Bob Pruett switched the running assignment to Berry.
"Amos was carrying the ball a lot in the first half," Pruett said. "Dennis is a little bigger and stronger. We hoped he would give us a little more punch."
The 5-foot-11, 172-pound senior responded, grinding out 61 years on 13 carries and keying Gar-Field's rally with a tackle-breaking 25-yard touchdown run with 9:34 left to play.
"I've only carried the ball about 10 times in the whole season (prior to yesterday's game)." Berry said, "I guess we were fumbling too much. I held on, so I guess that's why they kept me in."
The Indian halfback used blocking by linemen Bob camerisi, Bryant McReynolds, Jim Stone, Donald Hadley and David Miller to negotiate his way through Robinson's defense on an extremely muddy field.
"The field affected our running a little," Berry explained. "We couldn't fake much. We just had to put our head down and run straight."
Berry's first touchdown, along with a successful conversion kick by Steve Mehr. gave Gar-Field a 7-7 tie and shifted the momentum that had earned Robinson a 7-0 halftime lead.
Robinson, held to 44 yards on the ground, met fierce resistance on its first possession following Berry's score. Led by defensive ends Tim Flanagan and Joe Catalano, the Indians forced Robinson to punt from their 15.
The Rams' Mark Krynitsky, who had boomed a 50-yard punt, this time shanked the ball." The kick traveled only 10 yards, giving Gar-Field its go-ahead opportunity with 6:50 remaining.
Working against the right side of Robinson's defense, Gar-Field drove to the one on five Berry Carreis an two quarterback sneaks by Jeff Dahl.
"I guess that was their (Robinson's) weakest side," Berry said. "We kept blowing them off the ball."
Berry followed the blocking of Hadley and Miller once more over his left side for the deciding score with 3:52 left.
Robinson grabbed its first-half lead after achieving mixed success with its well-regarded passing attack. Ram quarterback Todd Kirtley, who completed just three of 12 passes in the first half and was intercepted twice, hit wide receiver Pete Fornesar over the middle for a 35-yard gain to the Gar-Field nine.
On fourth and goal at the three, Kirtley again found Fornesar, who slipped past Indian defender D.J. Jenkins to make the touchdown reception just over the goal line in the right corner 2:04 before intermission.
Kirtley, passing primarily from the shotgun formation, finished with seven completions in 20 attempts for 103 yards.
The 13 misses were not all his fault. Several passes were dropped in the first half, as both teams found difficulty holding on to the slippery football.
Dahl, who picked up 23 yards rushing, compleated five of 13 for 75 yards.