Potomac’s Torrey Dixon started the final game of his high school football career – a 21-7 playoff loss to Mountain View – at quarterback and was picked off four times. Saturday, the senior guard came up with the biggest pass defense of his life. Dixon deflected a baseline inbound pass for a turnover with six seconds left, and No. 4 Potomac (Va.) held off Maury, 55-52 in a thrilling 5A semifinal matchup at Old Dominion University.

“It was the best experience of my high school career,” junior guard Keijon Honore said. “That’s what a high school kid dreams of, and I got to live that dream tonight.”

The Panthers (27-1) led 25-17 at halftime and by as much as 11 midway through the third quarter, but the 5A South champion Commodores’ rallied down the stretch, pulling within one at 53-52 with nine seconds to play.

“We just stayed together as a team and kept our heads,” Honore said. “We knew throughout that we were still fine, that we were in position to win the game. So, we just stayed focused on what we needed to do.”

For the Panthers’ guards, that meant harassing Maury freshman sensation Matt Coleman. Dixon and senior guard Xavier Laws clamped down all night, forcing nine Coleman turnovers, including the final pass that glanced off his leg.

“He’s just so athletic and so quick,” Potomac Coach Keith Honore said of Dixon. “Between him and Xavier, those two kids really made [Coleman] work for everything he got.”

Senior forwards Randy Haynes and Tariq Felder scored 15 points apiece, while Keijon Honore made three treys on five attempts. After losing their season-long, 26-game win streak with a loss to Wakefield in the 5A North final, the Panthers re-focused for the state tournament.

Potomac will face Henrico for the 6A title on Friday at VCU’s Siegel Center. The Panthers beat the Warriors, 70-64, on Dec. 28 in the finals of Henrico’s holiday tournament.

“We’re no more confident than we have been, but we understand we have to deal with a Henrico team that has some extra motivation,” Potomac Coach Keith Honore said. “We beat them on their home floor, so we know they’re going to be pretty fired up to redeem that loss.”