Highlighted by a 62-yard, first-quarter interception return for a touchdown by senior defensive back Steve Barber, No. 11 Culpeper rode a solid defensive effort to a 17-7 victory over visiting E.C. Glass last night in a Virginia AAA Division 5 Northwestern Region playoff game.
After allowing a touchdown on E.C. Glass's first possession, Barber tied the game with 9 minutes 29 seconds left in the first quarter when he picked off an L.B. Campbell pass and raced down the right sideline for the score.
"I just used a little common sense," Barber said of the interception. "Their quarterback is only a sophomore so we tried to get in there and take advantage of that."
The defense continued to make key plays, coming up with big stops in the second half to emerge with the victory.
"Our offense usually gets a lot of attention, but our defense has been coming on strong," Culpeper Coach Lou Sorrentino said. "Our defensive coordinator Dave Boley told the guys at halftime if we held them scoreless in the second half we'd win, and that's what they did."
Twice in the second half E.C. Glass had the ball deep in Culpeper territory. Both times the Hilltoppers came away without any points. On fourth-and-five at the end of the third quarter, with the ball on the Blue Devils 20-yard line, senior linebacker Matt Gaskins knocked down Campbell's pass to give Culpeper possession.
E.C. Glass had one more chance to draw closer, moving all the way down to Culpeper's 14-yard line with just under five minutes to play in the game, but sophomore linebacker Jeremy Bailey sacked Campbell for a 13-yard loss to put an end to the Hilltoppers' comeback hopes.
In its next game, Culpeper plays William Fleming, which defeated Cave Spring, 28-6.
E.C. Glass did get on the scoreboard first. After forcing Culpeper to punt on its first possession, the Hilltoppers put together a 10-play drive traveling 52 yards that culminated with Carlos Waller reeling in a 15-yard fade pass from Campbell in the right corner of the end zone.
Culpeper's defense stiffened after the touchdown, yielding just 32 yards the rest of the half.
Following Barber's interception return, the Blue Devils forced E.C. Glass to punt on its next possession. Culpeper took over at its 34 and needed only six plays to move to the Hilltoppers 9. Sophomore running back Jermaine Cropp picked up four yards on first down, but a pair of quarterback Mike Jenkins's passes fell incomplete and the Blue Devils were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Mike Greenaway with 4:49 left before halftime.
Culpeper finished its strong second quarter when Jenkins rolled to his right and found senior wide receiver John Cagle in the corner of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown.