After three hours of drama, Westfield stood six yards away from a potential tying touchdown against Freedom-Woodbridge in the Virginia Class 6 semifinals. Down 21 just minutes before, the Bulldogs — winners of 37 straight and seeking a fourth consecutive state title — had launched a torrid rally, and they needed one more play on their home field.

The Eagles wouldn’t let them have it. The ball was snapped, the handoff was given, the offensive line was overpowered and the run was stuffed, giving Freedom a stunning 35-28 victory and earning it a date next week against Manchester for the state championship in Virginia’s largest classification.  

 The loss was the No. 4 Bulldogs’ first since Oct. 7, 2016, and it marked the most points Westfield (13-1) had yielded since that contest.

 “We knew we could do this since Monday,” Eagles quarterback Quest Powell said. “From the beginning of the season, really. We knew we could be here on this stage.”

Most of Saturday’s game was played without two of the most heralded players in Northern Virginia. Westfield quarterback Noah Kim, a leader and playmaker for the Bulldogs, and Freedom-Woodbridge running back TyQuan Brown, Prince William County’s all-time leading rusher, each went down in the first half with injuries. Brown suffered a sprained shoulder, while Kim had a serious leg injury that required an ambulance.  

Brown’s replacement, sophomore Julian Edwards, filled in admirably. His consistent short-yardage scampers set up Powell in the play-action pass game, and the No. 9 Eagles (13-1) led 21-7 at half.

 “Just because TyQuan went out, that didn’t kill our morale. Our best player went out and every single kid kept playing,” Coach Darryl Overton said. 

Jason Hawkins’s second touchdown run of the day gave the Eagles’ a 35-14 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining, and that’s when Westfield woke up. Senior Taylor Morin, taking snaps in a wildcat formation, threw for a quick score and then scooped and scored on a fumbled screen pass to make it 35-28 with three minutes left.

Westfield forced a three and out and then blocked the Eagles’ punt, giving them the ball at the Eagles’ 15-yard line with 50 seconds left. But the Freedom defense refused to break, meeting Westfield in the backfield on fourth down to seal the victory. 

Woodgrove moves on 

In the Virginia Class 4 semifinals, Woodgrove beat Blacksburg, 26-23, in overtime. It will face Lake Taylor in the championship. 

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