No. 12 Centreville has proven all season it can score quickly and efficiently, but Oakton showed that one well-executed defensive stop was enough to escape with a 34-31 victory at home last night in a AAA Concorde District game.
After Centreville pulled within three with 2 minutes 32 seconds remaining in the game, No. 15 Oakton failed to score on its next possession. But the Cougars (5-0, 2-0) delivered defensively when it counted most. On third down and six from the Wildcats 24, senior lineman Curtis Eward sacked quarterback Drew Dudzik for a five-yard loss with less than 20 seconds remaining. Centreville then failed to convert on fourth down.
Centreville "has an amazing offense, and we got a couple of stops when we needed them most," Oakton Coach Joe Thompson said. "We just hung in there. Against them, you felt like you're hanging in there for dear life. That's such a good offense."
The Cougars managed to keep pace with Centreville offensively, taking a 34-24 lead with 4:57 remaining in the fourth quarter. Senior running back Taylor Naleppa scored his second touchdown on 12-yard scamper up the middle.
But Centreville (4-2, 0-2) struck back immediately on an 80-yard, 14-play drive capped by a one-yard touchdown from senior running back Andrew Morgan to cut the deficit to 34-31. Dudzik completed seven passes for 61 yards to set up the score, including a 17-yard strike to junior wide receiver Nick Basalyga to the Cougars 1-yard line.
"We just can't get the stops," Centreville Coach Mike Skinner said. "With our offense, we're capable of beating any team. But we're not getting it done defensively. Our players gave us everything they've got."
Eward delivered the heroics at just the right moment. He said Oakton had been practicing on calling defensive plays quickly in an effort to keep up with the hurry-up offense of Centreville.
"In practice, we tried to simulate a play being run every five seconds,'' Eward said. "Our line just got a great push on them, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."