E.C. Glass made Potomac wait to start the game, so the fourth-ranked Panthers made the Hilltoppers from Lynchburg wait another year to vie for the Virginia AAA championship.
Potomac sophomore running back Shane Wright's 65-yard halfback pass to Keith Honore with 22 seconds left gave Potomac a 21-14 victory. The Panthers (11-0) will play Heritage, the state's second-ranked team and 27-0 winners over William Fleming, next Friday at Potomac in the Northwestern Region finals.
The Panthers trailed 14-13 and were on their 35 without a quarterback who could throw. Potomac's Gilbert Telleria dislocated his thumb in Thursday's practice and was wearing a clumsy cast.
But the option quarterback rolled left and while he was being dragged down he pitched to Wright. Wright pulled up and threw the ball 50 yards to a wide-open Honore, who had beaten cornerback Roger Johnson. He ran the final 15 yards untouched.
Wright added the clincher when he ran the extra point into the right corner of the end zone.
It was necessary for the Panthers to score because after they took control of the game with a 10-play, 55-yard scoring drive capped by Telleria's seven-yard option keeper, kicker Sal Colangelo missed the extra point.
On the winning drive, Telleria slipped on first down for no gain and gained seven yards on an option sweep the next play. Having only thrown the ball twice -- once for a six-yard scoring strike to tight end Matt Morrell -- the Panthers had the scoring play set up perfectly.
Glass tried to intimidate the Panthers before the start of the game. After the coin flip, the Hilltoppers left the field and returned by running through the Panthers' kickoff team.