Potomac School 32,

Avalon 30

Senior running back Riker Vermilye became another example of why coaches tell their teams to play until the final whistle, when his five-yard fumble return on the game's final play yesterday gave Potomac School a 32-30 victory over visiting Avalon in McLean.

With his team trailing 30-26 with 6.8 seconds remaining, Potomac School quarterback Tom Simeone threw a last-gasp heave from the 40-yard line that was picked off in the end zone by an Avalon player. Instead of downing the ball or running out of the end zone, which would have ended the game, the Avalon player spiked the ball in celebration and it rolled back into the field of play.

Vermilye, who had stayed back to protect the quarterback on the play, broke for the ball, scooped it up at the 5 and dived into the end zone with no time remaining. Wide receiver Kane Kanagawa, who like most of his teammates had already started a sullen walk back to the sideline, turned his head as the referee signaled a touchdown and was the first player to greet Vermilye in the end zone.

"We said to the team, that's a great testament to the things we talk about -- playing hard every play and good things will happen," Potomac School Coach Ed Wolkind said in a phone interview last night. "But also in reality, that's one of the greatest plays I've ever seen."

Vermilye's play capped a wild affair that saw Potomac School (3-4) erase a 22-8 fourth-quarter deficit. Vermilye, playing in the final home game of his career, ran for 103 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

"They were definitely exhausted," Wolkind said. "We've been pretty good in the fourth quarter and we never feel like it's over until it's over. But realistically, you never expect that Hail Mary pass to work out.

"But you always hold out hope."