Robinson 24, Centreville 13
Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Robinson shook off some early big-game jitters, rallied behind the strong running of Mike Anderson and Chase Anastasio and benefited from several late Centreville miscues Friday night in a 24-13 victory in a Virginia AAA Division 6 Northern Region semifinal.
With the win -- Robinson's 17th in a row -- before approximately 4,000 spectators, the defending region and state champion Rams (11-0) earned their third straight trip to the region final. They will host Oakton, a 17-0 winner over No. 9 Westfield, at 1 p.m. next Saturday.
Friday night's game turned early in the third quarter after No. 3 Centreville (9-2) recovered an onside kick. With the Wildcats trailing 10-7, speedy running back Daniel Bailey (131 yards on 20 carries) helped lead Centreville down to the Robinson 1-yard line. But on fourth and goal, the Wildcats fumbled the snap and, despite recovering the ball, turned it over on downs.
"Centreville was definitely the hardest opponent we faced this year," said linebacker Blake Shubert, who helped seal the victory by covering another Wildcats' onside kick late in the fourth quarter. "The goal line stand really meant a lot for us. It shifted the momentum, and we were pretty much in control after that."
Centreville could have changed the course of the game with a touchdown, but instead Robinson gained control. Now, Mark Bendorf's Rams will face his brother Pete Bendorf's Cougars next week, with the winner advancing to the state semifinals.
"The great thing is a Bendorf-coached team is going to win the region," Mark Bendorf said. "I guess we'll have to talk about college football [at Thanksgiving dinner]."
After Centreville missed its best chance to get back in the game, Robinson put together an impressive drive early in the fourth quarter. The drive culminated with Mike Anderson's 32-yard run with 9 minutes and 13 seconds remaining to put the Rams ahead, 17-7.
"Even after I scored, I still wasn't sure we were going to win," said Anderson (team-high 99 yards on 12 carries).
But Centreville didn't go down quietly. The Wildcats' defense forced a punt a few minutes later, and quarterback Dan Mellies tossed a 15-yard pass to Stephen Tate for a touchdown that pulled Centreville within 17-13.
But Shubert fell on the ensuing onside kick, and Danny Adams scored four plays later on a four-yard run to seal the victory.
"I have a lot of respect for them, but we made some key plays at the end," said Anastasio, who rushed for 74 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown on a 49-yard screen pass in the second quarter. It was our time tonight."