Robinson 23, West Potomac 13

For the second consecutive game it didn't matter who defending Div. 6 state champion Robinson put on the field. The result was the same as the past 13 contests: the top-ranked Rams won.

Playing again without 14 suspended players, Robinson used a pair of trick plays, and a mostly junior varsity lineup, to defeat host West Potomac, 23-13, in a Virginia AAA Patriot District game last night.

The victory avenged the Rams' 14-12 loss to West Potomac last year and set off a boisterous celebration on the Robinson sideline that was part excitement but mostly relief.

"The story of this game was the amount of resolve and heart this team has," Robinson Coach Mark Bendorf said. "With the odds stacked against us, we pulled it out. . . . It's going to take a lot more for this team to surrender."

The suspended players, most of whom are starters, missed the second of a two-game penalty for breaking undisclosed team rules. They were reduced to cheerleaders on the sidelines, but their understudies once again showed that they are more than ready for the spotlight, just as they had two weeks ago in a 61-30 victory over T.C. Williams.

Led on offense by running backs Aaron Richards and Mike Anderson and quarterback Andy Hartigan, Robinson (7-0, 3-0) overcame a 13-10 deficit midway through the third quarter on a double-pass that completely fooled the West Potomac defense.

Hartigan threw a lateral to sophomore Nick Altomare, who tossed a screen pass back across the field to Anderson. Anderson then ran 50 yards into the end zone to give the Rams a 16-13 lead. And the Wolverines (4-3, 1-2) never recovered.

"We've been working on trick plays all week," Altomare said. "But I never though [Bendorf] was going to call them. . . . We didn't have most of our seniors, but we dug deep and played with heart."

The Rams' trickery actually began late in the second quarter when they were trailing 7-3.

After surrendering 20 yards on back-to-back penalties, Robinson ran a double-reverse, flea-flicker, and Hartigan delivered a perfectly thrown 55-yard touchdown pass to Clarence Vaughn to restore the Rams' lead, 10-7, with 54 seconds remaining in the first half.

West Potomac regained the lead, 13-10, on a one-yard run by freshman fullback Micah Johnson -- his second of the game -- midway through the third quarter, but that was before Robinson went back to its bag of tricks.

"We had the bigger heart tonight," Jones said. "We put all the other stuff aside, and played the way we knew we had to. [The suspensions] have really pulled this team together."