Woodbridge's win at then-No. 18 Hylton was barely over Saturday night before the scoreboard was unplugged, leaving the Vikings little time to celebrate with a triumphant 24-7 glowing in the background.
"That's fine, though, we know the score," said Woodbridge senior running back Andre Bratton, whose teammates broke into a cheer of "Our house!"
That was a rare and fairly brazen gesture on the home field of the Bulldogs, winners of the past six Virginia AAA Northwestern Region Division 6 titles. But the Vikings' glee was understandable.
With the win, Woodbridge (6-3, 4-1 Cardinal District) clinched its first playoff berth since 1997 and distanced itself from the 20-40 record compiled the six seasons since '97, a sour stretch that belied the school's large size and successful past.
"I think the kids understand the importance of [this] game," said Vikings Coach Keith King, whose team lost, 27-0, to Hylton earlier this season. "And these seniors understand when we came here [four years ago] we said, 'You guys would be the ones to turn the program around. You have to stick together, you have to play together, you have to come up together. By the time you're seniors, you're going to be the ones to get us back in the playoffs.
"They did that. . . . I think they feel like they've come of age and kind of turned the program around."
It's the third straight season Woodbridge has pulled off a significant upset. The Vikings knocked off Hylton two years ago in overtime and last year beat eventual regional finalist Osbourn Park.
Hylton's lone score Saturday came when senior Damitri Burks blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone. Bratton (181 rushing yards) topped 100 yards for the ninth time this season and scored both second-half touchdowns, one a 52-yard scamper.
"He does it every week," King said. "I guess it's sad when you're a coach and you kind of expect it. You'd be disappointed if he didn't do something like that."