During the timeout that preceded the deciding play in Saturday's Virginia AA Division 4 semifinal between Sherando and Powhatan, the Powhatan coaching staff decided on a play that called for wide receiver Raymond Grenke to run a short corner route.

But before the Indians returned to their huddle trailing by three with less than three minutes to play, Grenke begged the coaches to send him deep.

"I was like 'Coach, let me run the post!' " Grenke said. "He was like, 'All right, all right, run the post.' "

A few seconds later, Grenke was celebrating a 47-yard touchdown catch that lifted Powhatan to a 21-17 victory. The Indians (12-1), who were AA state champions in 2003, advanced to next Saturday's state championship game against Salem. Sherando (10-3) was denied its first title game appearance since 1996.

Sherando's defense was stout for most of the game but faltered in the final minutes. The Warriors limited Powhatan in the second half to just 63 yards of offense before Grenke's big play.

"All throughout the year, we've prided ourselves on defense," Warriors linebacker D.J. Jackson said. "We were confident that we could get the job done. They're a good team and they found a hole at the last second."

Facing third and seven, Powhatan lined up for the go-ahead score with three wide receivers on the left side of the formation. When a Sherando safety approached the line of scrimmage to cover a receiver running a short route, Grenke sprinted deep, caught a picturesque spiral from junior quarterback Michael Schoeffel and raced to the end zone.

"I was wide open," Grenke said. "Oh man, it was amazing. It couldn't have been a better throw. "

Sherando got the ball back after Powhatan's go-ahead touchdown and crossed into Indians territory before turning the ball over on downs.

The Warriors led 14-0 late in the second quarter but three first-half turnovers allowed Powhatan to tie the game at 14 by halftime. "We had opportunities, but we understand that every game we've been in has been back and forth," Jackson said.

Sherando senior Joe Oher, an all-Northwestern District running back, carried 29 times for 156 yards and two touchdowns.