Yorktown quarterback John Creedon challenged his teammate, junior running back Bryan Campbell, during the week to step up in last night's Virginia AAA Northern Region Division 5 semifinal against visiting Langley. The Patriots were without their leading rusher, and someone needed to pick up the slack against a very good defensive team.

Campbell and three other backs did just that. Campbell's four-yard run with 24 seconds remaining lifted Yorktown to a 38-32 win--the Patriots' first playoff victory since 1988.

Yorktown (8-3), the National District champion, will face South Lakes next Friday at 7:30 at South Lakes High School. Langley ended its season with a 6-5 record.

"We lost a big runner in Anthony Tigney," said Creedon, who directed the Patriots' 48-yard winning drive. "But Bryan and the others stepped it up. It was disappointing [to hear that Tigney couldn't play]. It's bad any time you lose a back who rushed for over 1,000 yards. We knew we had to work hard to make up for that."

Tigney, a senior who rushed for 1,180 yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season, was forced to sit out last night's game because he had accumulated too many class tardies, according to Yorktown Coach Bruce Hanson. The team learned Wednesday that Tigney would not be playing. He will play next week.

So the Patriots turned to four other backs: seniors Alex Hachana, Brad Schuyler and Donovan Carmichael, and Campbell. Together, they rushed for 271 yards and three touchdowns on 43 carries. Carmichael led the way with 116 yards on 12 carries.

"I thought they did a great job," Hanson said. "We knew that we were going to have to do it by committee."

A 22-yard field goal by Hachana tied the score at 32 with 5 minutes 26 seconds left in the game. The Patriots got the ball back when senior defensive back Adam Wise intercepted Langley quarterback Jack Urbanski, but the Yorktown offense couldn't move the ball and was forced to punt.

But once again, the Patriots' defense made a big play: With less than three minutes left in the game, Urbanski fumbled the snap, and Yorktown senior Scott Hersh pounced on the ball. That set up the game-winning drive.

"I thought we blew that first opportunity [the interception], and I was upset with the play selection," Hanson said. "But we got a second chance, and we changed a couple of things."

Yorktown used several big plays--a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown by Hachana, a 63-yard touchdown run by Carmichael, a 64-yard run by Campbell that set up another touchdown--to break a five-game playoff losing streak. The Patriots had lost in the regional semifinals the past two years.

"This was huge," Creedon said. "We get a lot of criticism that we play in a weak district and that we can't win out of our district. We wanted to prove to other teams that we could."