Westfield 30, Centreville 21
There was little question who was going to get the ball on the play that finally sealed fifth-ranked Westfield's 30-21 victory over No. 15 Centreville. Evan Royster is accustomed to opponents preparing for him, however, and even the knowledge of what was coming was not enough for the opposing defense to keep him from the end zone on one final run.
With time running out and host Westfield protecting a three-point lead facing fourth and one, Royster took a toss to the right, broke away from a few tacklers near the line of scrimmage and ran 19 yards for his second touchdown of the game, capping an exciting Virginia AAA Concorde District game before 7,000 in Chantilly.
"When people key on you, it's always harder," Royster said. "Linebackers shadowing every step you make . . . pointing and yelling, 'Watch 24! Watch 24!' You've got to rely on your offensive line to do a good job and pick up their blocks."
That happened again last night, with Royster rushing 33 times -- nearly two out of every three plays his team ran -- for 198 yards, his 12th consecutive game with more than 100 yards rushing. The victory was the 19th in a row for the Virginia AAA Division 6 defending champions and their 26th consecutive regular season victory.
Royster had plenty of help. Quarterback Val Arduini scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak and lofted a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver David Roddy early in the fourth quarter to give Westfield a 24-14 lead. Linebacker Jon Turner forced a fumble and made a sack. And wide receiver Christian Kelly threw a key block on Royster's last touchdown, Bulldogs Coach Tom Verbanic said.
"People want to make it like we're a one-man team," Verbanic said. "We're a football team."
Westfield (6-0, 1-0 Concorde) needed all of the contributions. The Bulldogs built 10-point leads on three occasions only to have Centreville (4-2, 0-1) score to keep the pressure on.
Centreville missed a field goal that would have tied the game midway through the third quarter, then Arduini threw his fourth touchdown pass of the season to Roddy. The Wildcats came back, however, getting within 24-21 on an eight-yard touchdown run by D.J. Thornton -- a transfer from Westfield -- with 6 minutes 11 seconds left.
But needing its defense to force a punt, Centreville was unable to stop Royster. Twice he carried on third and short for first downs. Then, after Centreville called its final timeout with 45 seconds left, Royster broke away for his 20th touchdown of the season.
"We contained him about as good as you are going to contain him," Centreville Coach Mike Skinner said. "He's a great player. What are you going to do?"
Said Verbanic: "Evan is a tremendous player and a talented young man. And I'm glad he's a junior."