Loudoun Valley swooped down and stole the Northwestern District championship out from under Loudoun County, 20-14, last night.
Valley defensive end Chris Lockhart caught County quarterback Robert Mawyer's option pitch in midair and ran 46 yards to give the Vikings the victory.
The victory makes Valley district co-champion with Broad Run, a 24-7 winner over Park View. But Valley beat Broad Run and has more power points, so they travel to the Virginia state AA playoffs against either Orange County or Louisa.
Lockhart's heroics capped a come-from-behind victory for Valley, which was down by 14 points early in the first quarter.
One play after Brian Custer intercepted Valley quarterback Frankie Johnson's pass, Brian Allen dashed 37 yards for a score. On County's next possession Mawyer hit Steve Hole for a 31-yard touchdown.
Johnson cracked his thumb against Handley earlier this season and was unable to throw the ball farther than 10 yards with a soft cast still on his hand. So Valley Coach Mike Barton pulled out all the stops, including a reverse pass by Lockhart and using 231-pound nose guard George Sledd as a running back. He scored two touchdowns.
But the ultimate charm for the Vikings turned out to be turnovers in the steady rainfall.
Trailing by 14-7 in the second half, Valley forced County to punt from its 26. The snap was high and the slick ball sailed through punter Fellow Dolby's hands. He fell on it at the 4.
One play later, Sledd went over the left side for his second score. Matt Schulz's extra point kick tied it at 14.
Then Lockhart came on to the scene. "They were taking advantage of the outside in the first half," he said. "Coach Barton told me I had to move towards the back. I saw the read and the ball was in my hands. I just hoped nobody could catch me."
The rain almost betrayed the Vikings. After forcing County to punt, Mike Basil fielded the rolling ball and broke one tackle but fumbled on the next hit. Kenny Hill recovered at the 22.
Four plays later, the Raiders were on the 2 and could get a first down at the 1. Mawyer bobbled the snap for a two-yard loss and was sacked for another loss at the 7. On fourth down he rolled right, and finding no one open, he put his head down for the first down or the score. He was stopped at the 2.
Valley used five running backs to drive the ball to the Raiders 40 and ran the clock out on the game and County's season.