No. 2 Hylton knew that Landstown senior Percy Harvin was going to catch some passes in the teams' Virginia AAA Division 6 semifinal yesterday at Hylton. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, he caught them from both quarterbacks.
Harvin hauled in a 60-yard touchdown pass on the Eagles' first play from scrimmage and ended the game by returning an interception -- his second pick of the game -- 100 yards for a score to cap a 25-14 win and spoil the makings of a remarkable and unlikely Hylton comeback.
The Bulldogs (12-1) nursed a 7-6 lead over the defending state champions into the fourth quarter before Landstown (13-0) scored on a touchdown pass at the end of an 89-yard drive and then tacked on an 11-yard Harvin touchdown run to go up 19-7 with 1 minute 52 seconds left.
Aided by a 15-yard penalty, Hylton needed just four plays to go 51 yards and score on a 23-yard pass from junior Darius Reynolds to senior Marshall Dill. Hylton senior Michael Clark then recovered junior Daniel Gonzales's onside kick at the Landstown 45 to give his team the chance for the upset.
The Bulldogs worked their way into first and goal at the 9, and after a spike on first down, threw twice into the end zone. It was on the second throw that Harvin thwarted the comeback.
Reynolds said he was looking for junior Fred Massa at the right pylon. Harvin was covering the flat and made the proper read.
Landstown picked off Reynolds four times; he had thrown two interceptions in the first 12 games. After Harvin dodged the quarterback on his end-to-end return, Reynolds sprawled out face-down on the field, immobile in his disappointment.
"I thought [Reynolds] threw the ball well and hard" on that last play, said Hylton Coach Lou Sorrentino, whose team has lost in the state semifinals the past three years after winning the Division 6 title in 2002. "We didn't want to be late with the ball, we wanted to be quick with it. But [Harvin] made the play. Just being in that position to have a shot to win it there, I'm real proud of our kids."
Hylton is now 18-2 in home playoff games. Landstown, from Virginia Beach, has won 27 straight games, with the last loss being to Westfield in the 2003 state championship.
Landstown had scored 50 or more points in seven regular season games thanks to its 3,400-yard passing attack, but at times the Eagles were more of a ball-control team against Hylton. That was in part because of the turf toe slowing senior receiver Damon McDaniel and in part because the Bulldogs were able to pressure senior quarterback Donnie Kirby.
Kirby completed 19 of 29 passes for 227 yards, but 105 of that came when he connected on his first seven attempts. Harvin, one of 16 finalists for the Parade All-American High School Player of the Year Award, had 172 yards of total offense.
"We're not like some teams where if you shut one thing down they don't have an answer to it," said Landstown Coach Chris Beatty, a Chantilly graduate. "We've got a lot of answers, and we needed all of them today."
Staff writer Stephen A. Norris contributed to this report.