Oakton 28, Herndon 14
Oakton quarterback Pat Day saved his best run for when the Cougars needed it the most.
On his final carry on a frigid night, the senior raced 42 yards to put the finishing touch on Oakton's 28-14 victory over Herndon in a Virginia AAA Concorde District game in Vienna.
"We knew we had to get one more score to put it away, that was big for us. It pretty much ended it," Day said.
For most of the game, Oakton (5-2, 1-1) used its methodical option attack that depended largely on the decision making of Day, who finished with 108 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Although the Cougars were able to build a 20-0 lead, thanks in large part to first-half mistakes by the Hornets, second-half mistakes nearly allowed Herndon (3-4, 1-2) to comeback in the second half.
Oakton's reserve quarterback Andrew Rediger entered with 4 minutes 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter and directed the Cougars down the field on its most sustained drive of the night. But Rediger threw an ill-advised screen pass across the field that was intercepted by Matthew Graybill and returned 81 yards to the Oakton 9.
Oakton's defense would make the initial stop, but Brandon Guyer was able to score from three yards out with 6:27 remaining to pull Herndon to within 20-14.
"Our kids had an opportunity," Herndon Coach Tommy Meier said "But if you can't knock it in from the seven or whatever it was you don't deserve to win."
Colin Golding scored the first touchdown for Herndon -- a 29-yard pass from James Kimball -- to cut the Cougars' lead to 20-7.
Herndon's defense forced another turnover but the Hornets could not move the ball when it had to.
"I know our defense comes up big when we need it to," said Oakton running back Mike Bagetta said, whose 65-yard touchdown run gave the Cougars a 20-0 lead.
Unlike Herndon, the Cougars were able to take advantage of its opportunities.
A 28-yard interception by Oakton defensive back Terry Kimener on the fourth play of the game setup the first of two Matt Lewis field goals. On Herndon's next possession, Oakton's defense would force another turnover that led to a four-yard touchdown run by John Pettiford.
The race for the playoffs does not get much easier for Oakton as its next three opponents (Chantilly, Westfield and Lake Braddock) entered last night's games with a combined record of 14-4. But Day think he knows what it will take to make the playoffs.
"We have some big guns coming up," Day said. "Every the game's the same, we have to win every single one to get into the playoffs."