On a special night in the 46-year history of Annandale High, the Atoms' football team turned in a memorable performance. Running back Sam Korpoi rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown and quarterback J.R. Conteh scored on a pair of four-yard touchdown runs to lead Annandale to a 28-14 victory over third-ranked West Potomac last night in a Virginia AAA Patriot District game before 2,500 at J. Wallace Bolding Stadium.
With nearly 200 former Annandale football players in the stands for a school reunion, Korpoi carried 34 times, tying the 27-year-old school record for carries in a game. Conteh completed just one pass, but the Atoms rushed for 317 yards to end West Potomac's 16-game regular season winning streak.
Annandale's defense, led by linemen Jeremiah Davis, Carl Clyburn and Bubba Hollingsworth, forced four turnovers and held West Potomac in check. Entering the game, the Wolverines (3-1, 0-1) were averaging an area-best 51.7 points.
"We were just hoping we could win somehow," Annandale Coach Dick Adams said. "We had a heck of a lot of armchair quarterbacks in the stands tonight. They wanted to see us suck it up and win. They didn't just want to see us play well."
Adams agreed that it was perhaps the biggest victory in five seasons for the Atoms, who are perennially one of the area's strongest teams but have failed to make the playoffs since winning consecutive state titles in 1993 and 1994.
Annandale (3-1, 1-0) was in control of the game throughout. The Atoms drove the length of the field for touchdowns--both on runs by Conteh--on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead.
A 71-yard run by fullback Geoff Todd set up a seven-yard touchdown pass from Tony Hooks to Brett Banes that brought West Potomac within 14-7 late in the first half.
And midway through the second half, the Wolverines appeared to gain momentum when Conteh was stopped for a three-yard loss on fourth and three from the West Potomac 23-yard line.
But the game changed for good on the next play. Todd took a pitch and ran right, then paused to throw. With two receivers open downfield, Todd rushed his throw to avoid the rush and was intercepted by Stephen Agyeman. On the next play, Korpoi rushed up the middle, ran through one tackle and cut to his right for a 20-yard touchdown. The point-after attempt failed, but Annandale had a 20-7 lead and had regained control.
Agyeman later added a two-yard touchdown run and caught a two-point conversion.
"We practiced hard and our offensive line played a great game," said Korpoi, who had his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game--all Annandale victories. "We just all played hard. We wanted to show the old guys we could still do it."
Said Conteh: "We felt we had to come out and win this game and let [the alumni] know, and all of Annandale know, that we can continue the tradition."
Korpoi said he had been looking forward to the game since last school year, when West Potomac players would talk to him at indoor and outdoor track meets.
"I run track with all those guys from West Potomac," Korpoi said, "and they said they were going to beat us. . . . Everybody was going against us and saying they were going to beat us by 21 points. We didn't believe that."
West Potomac Coach Dale Eaton, whose team is the two-time Division 6 Northern Region defending champion, said the turnovers were the difference in the game.
"You coach a long time, you see it happen," he said. "Annandale is a quality team, I said so at the beginning of the season. They played hard and didn't make too many mistakes."
CAPTION: Annandale's Bernard Sintim (3) is tackled by West Potomac's Tony Hooks. The Atoms (3-1) ended the Wolverines' (3-1) 16-game regular season winning.