Robinson 14, Centreville 9
Robinson had contained one of the Northern Region's top passing combinations in Centreville quarterback Drew Dudzik and receiver Cameron Dohse for most of the game. However, with less than four minutes remaining in last night's Division 6 semifinal, the Rams' secondary was called on to make its biggest stop of the season.
Senior defensive back Nick Altomare was up to the challenge. With the Wildcats at the Robinson 7-yard line, Altomare picked off Dudzik's third-down pass in the end zone to secure Robinson's 14-9 win at home.
The victory puts the No. 2 Rams (11-0) back in the Northern Region final, where at 1 p.m. next Saturday they will go for their sixth such crown when they host Oakton. The Cougars topped defending state champion Westfield last night.
Before last night, Oakton had given Robinson its toughest test of season when it lost to the Rams in Week 3, 23-17.
But the Wildcats (7-4) gave Robinson a tougher test. Dohse entered the game with 37 catches for 709 yards and 13 touchdowns and Dudzik averaged 168 yards passing per contest. Except for a 61-yard screen pass five plays before Altomare's heroics, the duo had been held in check.
"Centreville has so many great players on offense and defense, it was a real challenge," said Altomare, who had two interceptions in the fourth quarter and made a pivotal 21-yard catch on the Rams' go-ahead scoring drive in the third quarter. "Dohse is the best receiver in the region, so you expect him to make plays. You just hope you don't let them make big plays."
Dudzik finished 8-of-22 passing for 178 yards; Dohse caught three passes for 103 yards.
"Our secondary played great the entire game," said Robinson Coach Mark Bendorf. "When you have a three-year starter back their like [Altomare], you come to expect him to come up big. All Centreville really got on us was that one long play, and that was a screen."
Rams quarterback Matt Goff had an efficient night (5 for 11 passing for 156 yards). His best throw of the night came on a third -and-10 play, hitting Altomare on a slant for a 21-yard gain to the 9. Junior halfback Lucas Caparelli scored on the next play to give his team the lead for good.
Robinson could manage just one first down on its first four possessions of the game. But on its fifth, starting at its 35, Goff got hot, finding two wide-open receivers. After a 25-yard strike in the flat to wide receiver Joe McDevitt, Goff found Caparelli (four catches for 110 yards) running alone in the middle of the secondary. The speedy junior caught the ball at the 30, but was chased down by a hustling Derek Bailey at the 3.
Two plays later, Caparelli ran around end for a one-yard score, giving the Rams a 7-3 lead with 1:13 left in the half. It was a team-best 15th touchdown of the season for Caparelli, who was held to just 45 yards on 17 rushes.