Centreville senior Connor Coward held out his arms in the moments after the sixth-ranked Wildcats’ thrilling 27-24 win over No. 2 Westfield in the Virginia AAA Northern Region Division 6 final on Saturday afternoon. Clearly visible on his right forearm was a red mark in the curved shape of a football.
The defensive back had just blocked what would have been the game-tying field goal in the final minute, in front of a crowd estimated at 10,000 in Chantilly. The play lifted the Wildcats (12-1) to their first region championship since winning the state title in 2000, yet Coward recalled just one thing going through his mind as he blocked the kick.
“It hurt,” he said.
Coward’s crucial play helped the Wildcats hold off a late rally from previously-undefeated Westfield, a Concorde District rival that had won the regular season meeting between the teams in overtime.
Centreville will travel to Hermitage (12-0), the Central Region champion, for a state semifinal on Dec. 3.
The Wildcats had opened up a 10-point lead in the first half thanks to the play of its defense, which forced four turnovers to set up three scores.
A one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Mitch Ferrick early in the fourth quarter gave Centreville a 27-10 lead — its biggest of the game — but Westfield (12-1) needed only three plays and 20 seconds — punctuated by Kendell Anderson’s 22-yard touchdown run — to cut the lead back to 10 and seize momentum.
Centreville went three and out on its next drive and punted, and Anderson returned the kick 62 yards before being tackled at the one-yard line. Quarterback Matthew Pisarcik scored on the next play to make it 27-24.
“We just had to kill the momentum,” Centreville All-Met defensive lineman Ken Ekanem said.
But after Westfield pulled to within three it got the ball back twice more with a chance to tie or take the lead.
On third and 10 from the Centreville 27-yard line, however, Ekanem sacked Pisarcik for a nine-yard loss to force a punt.
And on the next drive, Coward’s blocked field goal sealed the Wildcats’ first win over Westfield since 2001.
“I think everybody here can agree that the two best teams in the region played here today,” Wildcats Coach Chris Haddock said. “The fact that it was a tight game was appropriate. We’re the region champs not by much, but it only needed to be by a little.”