Westfield 26, Oakton 24
Westfield place kicker Danny Murphy had plenty to think about during a timeout called by Oakton in the final minute -- two missed field goal attempts earlier in the game, the possibility of losing for the first time and not making the playoffs.
However, Murphy was able to block all of that out and the senior booted a 42-yard field goal with 40 seconds remaining to set off a wild celebration on the Westfield sideline as the 11th-ranked Bulldogs prevailed, 26-24, in a thrilling Virginia AAA Concorde District game last night in Chantilly.
The win also clinched Westfield's first postseason berth in the school's three-year history.
"I was a little down after missing a couple of attempts," said Murphy, who also connected on a 32-yarder in the first half. "But I knew I just had to focus. I knew if I relied on my mechanics, it would go in."
Murphy's kick capped an improbable comeback for the Bulldogs (9-0, 3-0). Oakton (6-3, 2-2) took a 24-23 lead with 2 minutes 39 seconds remaining when lineman Craig Torbett recovered his own quarterback's fumble in the end zone. But Westfield's chances appeared dim moments later when Bulldogs quarterback Sean Glennon was intercepted.
Yet two plays later, the Cougars coughed up the ball and Westfield's Brandon Dobbs fell on it, breathing life back into the Bulldogs' hopes of a comeback.
Glennon connected with wide receiver Eddie Royal for 39 yards four plays later to put Westfield on the Cougars 25-yard line and inside Murphy's kicking range.
"We believed when he missed those two field goals that we would get a third chance and that he would make it," Westfield Coach Tom Verbanic said.
The Bulldogs' victory sets up one of the most-anticipated games in recent memory -- No. 3 Centreville at Westfield on Saturday for the district championship.
"It feels like I've been waiting for this game for a year," Glennon said. "I'm just glad we were able to pull this one out."
The game began under a thick fog, but it did not prevent the teams from finding the end zone midway through the first quarter, when they combined to score three touchdowns in a 1-minute 15-second window.
Dan Carmack capped a long drive with a four-yard run to put the Bulldogs ahead, 7-0. Oakton responded on its second play of the game -- a 69-yard pass to John Pettiford from Pat Day -- to even the game at 7. On the ensuing kickoff, Westfield's Royal returned the ball 91 yards down the sideline to restore the Bulldogs' edge, 14-7.
Oakton tied the score at 14 on a spectacular 11-yard diving catch by wide receiver J.D. Morgan. Westfield went up 17-14 on a 32-yard field goal by Murphy as time ran out in the half.