Facing third and seven from his 12-yard line with two minutes left in a tie game last night, Culpeper senior quarterback Mike Jenkins considered nixing the deep pass play sent in from the sideline and mulled over an audible. Instead, Jenkins followed orders to the letter and heaved a 55-yard pass that senior Terence Dinkins caught in stride and transformed into an 88-yard touchdown and a 14-7 homecoming win over Brooke Point.
By connecting on the simple sideline pattern, the No. 12 Blue Devils are flirting with history. They have ensured themselves a piece of the Commonwealth District title for each of the four years they have played in Virginia AAA, and a win at Fauquier next week would result in the first 10-0 season in school history.
The winning touchdown pass also had personal meaning for Jenkins, who with his 21st touchdown pass of the year tied the school record set by his brother, Robbie, a 1996 graduate and current Bridgewater quarterback. The elder Jenkins rarely gets to attend games, but was on hand last night.
"He told me if you're going to break it, do it tonight while I'm here," said Mike Jenkins, who also threw a touchdown pass to senior Daniel Winning with four minutes left in the third quarter. "When I went over there and saw [Robbie], he was in tears. It's a sentimental thing with us."
On a night when the longest run by Culpeper was a giddy halftime sprint by the just-announced homecoming king, Jenkins needed to complete some passes. He hooked up on just 2-of-8 first-half attempts but was 8 of 10 in the second half.
"We connected when it counted," Jenkins said of the catch by Dinkins with 2 minutes 16 seconds left. "I don't really have the luxury [of changing a play], but I thought about it anyway. If the [defensive back] had been lined up another four yards deep, I would have called a shorter pass."
"I can call 'em, but I don't take credit for that [play]," Culpeper Coach Lou Sorrentino said. "It's a very simple play. Your back's against the wall, and you take a shot with your best kids. It's a three-step drop, so I wasn't worried about pressure. We were just going to air it out and see what happens."
"He hit him dead on the run," said Brooke Point Coach Tom Berry, whose team, with the loss, was knocked out of Northwestern Region playoff contention.
It was the lack of a passing game (2 of 14 with two interceptions) that helped do in the Black Hawks, who benefited from junior Larry Smith's eighth 100-yard rushing game of the season. The lack of a proven place kicker also hurt. With less than four minutes left, Brooke Point faced fourth and two at the Culpeper 8 and opted to try for the first down.
"I didn't like the angle on the right hash mark, which was the worst thing," Berry said. "And we felt confident we could move it. Plus, I felt if we didn't get it, we had them down in a hole a little bit."
On the play, senior quarterback Jeff Tate bumped into senior fullback Jack Burner before handing off to Smith, who was stopped at the line of scrimmage.