The most frightening moment of the Centreville football season soon gave way to the most jubilant last night as the host Wildcats stunned No. 1 Robinson, 20-17, on a fourth-down touchdown catch by reserve wide receiver T.J. Denby.
Denby, who had not caught a ball this season, was playing because the Wildcats' top receiver, senior Cameron Dohse, was knocked out of the game in the third quarter following a helmet-to-helmet hit as he was going over the middle for a pass. Dohse lay motionless for a few minutes before being removed from the field by stretcher and taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital. He was later reported to be "up and walking around," according to Wildcats assistant coach Doug Wheelbarger, and was being held for observation.
Dohse missed a heck of a finish. Trailing 17-13 with 2 minutes 37 seconds to go, the Wildcats faced fourth and four from the Robinson 9-yard line. Denby, one of four receivers on the left side of the formation, went in motion before the snap and then headed to the corner of the end zone. There, quarterback Drew Dudzik, after making some nifty maneuvers in the pocket, spotted him standing alone and found the 5-foot-8 junior for the score.
"I didn't think [Drew] was going to see me, but then, all of sudden, he turned around and threw it to me," Denby said. "I felt like I was standing alone back there for 10 minutes. That touchdown was for Cameron."
Robinson wasn't done yet. The Rams returned the ensuing kickoff -- a ground-ball kick -- to the Centreville 42. But quarterback Matt Goff missed on two long passes down the right sideline and in between had a pass over the middle dropped, setting up fourth down. Jason Salter sacked Goff on the next play and the Wildcats, who had lost six of their previous seven games against Robinson, then ran out the clock.
"The key for us was that we just wanted to hang in there," said Dudzik, who threw for 178 yards. "Beating the number one team in the area, with our season on the line -- it's such a great feeling."
The victory restored playoff hopes for the No. 15 Wildcats (5-2, 1-2 Concorde District). The loss was the first during the regular season for Group AAA Division 6 state runner-up Rams (5-1, 2-1) since they fell to West Potomac in 2001 -- a span of 37 games.
Robinson trailed 13-10 at halftime and took a 17-13 lead with 4 minutes 59 seconds left in the third quarter on an 18-yard run by Lucas Caparelli, who finished with 224 yards and two touchdowns, including a 64-yard run on his team's first play from scrimmage.