It might have been the greatest compliment Robinson's defense had ever received. Facing a stingy Rams defense on a crucial fourth and one with less than a three minutes left, visiting Westfield -- one of the Washington area's best rushing teams -- did something that would have seemed unthinkable: The Bulldogs passed.
That throw, a trick toss on a fake punt by running back Evan Royster, fell incomplete to help seal a 14-10 win for No. 8 Robinson (9-1), giving the Rams the No. 2 seed in the Virginia AAA Northern Region Division 6 playoffs next week. No. 6 Westfield (9-1), meanwhile, suffered its first loss of the season -- and its first setback in its running game.
The Rams held Royster (1,809 yards coming into the game) to 57 yards on 18 carries and forced three turnovers -- doubling Westfield's total for the season. The two teams will play a rematch next week in the first round of the playoffs.
"We knew we had to keep them from running if we wanted to win," Robinson senior linebacker Jack Curtis said. "We were holding them to not much all the time, and by the end of the game they really weren't getting anything."
Robinson's stout defense made sure a one-yard, fourth-quarter rushing touchdown by running back Lucas Caparelli stood as the final score in a back-and-forth game. Caparelli's touchdown, which came with less than nine minutes left, capped a 70-yard drive.
That score also provided a perfect end point to another good game from Caparelli. The senior running back scored twice, boosting his season total to 29 touchdowns. He carried the ball 34 times for 153 yards.
"In a game like this, any points are good points," Caparelli said. "We knew we probably wouldn't need too much to win. Our defense has been playing great.
"They're pretty impossible to break down."
Westfield tried just about everything. The Bulldogs played two quarterbacks and often threw successfully. Sophomore Mike Glennon replaced junior Josh Witmer in the second half and completed five passes for 96 yards.
But if the Robinson defense occasionally bent, it never broke. After Westfield scored on a rushing touchdown three minutes into the game by fullback Ryan Shaughnessy, the Bulldogs struggled to move the ball. They managed a field goal in the third quarter to retake a brief, 10-7 lead before Caparelli put the Rams back on top for good.
"They did a great job on Evan," Westfield Coach Tom Verbanic said. "He hurt his ankle on the first play of the second half, and he wasn't quite himself when he came back in. But they were great against the run."
Said Curtis: "The whole defense played great. Now we've just got to keep the momentum and do it again, in the playoffs."