The game's biggest play unfolded with Varina quarterback Michael Robinson spotting a gaping hole at the 23-yard line between his guard and tackle, faking the pitch to running back Lamont Abrams and then turning upfield. Centreville's defense bit on his fake, and Robinson quickly reached the secondary, where he shed three tackles before reaching the end zone.
Robinson's score broke a 17-17 tie with 1 minute 46 seconds remaining and proved to be the game-winner, lifting Varina (13-0) to a thrilling, 23-17 comeback victory over No. 8 Centreville (10-3) in a Virginia AAA Division 6 semifinal in front of 2,000 delirious fans at Varina High.
The victory earned the Blue Devils a chance to settle a score against Hylton, which last year defeated Varina in the final. Hylton advanced to the championship game by defeating Princess Anne, 38-13, today. For the second straight year, Centreville won the Northern Region but failed to advance in the state playoffs. Varina and Hylton (13-0) meet Saturday at the University of Richmond at 4 p.m.
"I said if I could get my hands on the ball, they wouldn't deny me," said Robinson, who passed for one touchdown and rushed for two more. "Superman had to take it to the house. It was an option--I saw a hole and decided to take it myself."
Asked about the rematch with Hylton, Robinson cracked a confident smile and said: "Oh yeah, we want Hylton bad. I don't think they have nothing for us this year."
Before Varina could celebrate today, however, the Blue Devils had to fend off one more attack from the Wildcats--and they almost got burned. On the game's final play, a halfback pass from Centreville wide receiver Ferris Eways barely missed connecting with a wide-open Tony Grossman. Had the pass been only a few inches shorter, Grossman probably would have caught the pass and scored.
"We didn't quit, and they didn't quit," said Blue Devils Coach Gary Chilcoat, who was an assistant coach with Varina when the school lost to Hylton in the final last year. "It was just a great football game."
Centreville dominated the first quarter and led, 14-0, behind running back Mike Williams (105 yards on 21 carries). The Wildcats scored on their third play from scrimmage on a 71-yard pass to J.P. Gary from Sam McElroy to take a 7-0 lead. On their next possession, Williams broke a 64-yarder to make the lead to 14-0.
Varina came back with two quick scores--a 27-yard field goal by Brian Stainker and an eight-yard touchdown reception by DeAndre Mickleberry--to draw within 14-10 at halftime.
Robinson's 23-yard run late in the third quarter gave Varina a 17-14 lead. But the lead did not last long. Centreville knotted the score at 17 early in the fourth on a 39-yard field goal by Brian Christiansen.
Game summary on Page D17