Lake Braddock special teams coach Paul Woodside cornered his kicker in the locker room at halftime.
“How many kicks have you made and missed?” he asked Jack Rawlins.
“I’m 0 for 1,” Rawlins told him. The senior missed a 36-yard field goal just before intermission that could have given the No. 6 Bruins a 10-point lead.
“Wrong,” Woodside responded. “You’re 0 for 0. Forget about it.”
And in overtime against West Potomac, Rawlins did. He drilled a 23-yarder to give Lake Braddock a 24-21 win in a clash of Virginia Conference 7 unbeatens on homecoming in Burke.
Poythress doesn’t talk to kickers, he said. He’s wary of getting in their heads and messing with their confidence. But he can yell at the rest of his team, he said.
“We played awful,” he said.
After a 74-yard touchdown run by Lamont Atkins on the Bruins’ first drive, Lake Braddock sat back, Poythress said. His team acted like it had the game in the bag.
Instead, West Potomac launched a furious rally in the second half on the arm of junior quarterback Mark Ellis.
He hit DaJuan Bellfield for an eight-yard score on the first drive after halftime that tied the score at 14. On the first drive of the fourth quarter, he found Brandan Linsenby for another nine-yard strike to tie the game at 21.
“This is what we came here for,” West Potomac Coach Jeremiah Ross shouted to his team on the sideline.
Coming into this game, the Wolverines (3-1, 0-1 Conference 7) declared this matchup a yardstick for their team’s progress. West Potomac hasn’t beaten Lake Braddock in four years. This was the year, Ellis said, the team felt ready to pull an upset.
Atkins, Lake Braddock’s star rusher, had other ideas. He ran for 194 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. Ibrahim Mansaray added another 60 yards on the ground.
In overtime, Poythress leaned on both to anchor his defense. After two short runs for West Potomac tailback Justine Annan, Ellis was sacked on back-to-back plays.
The Bruins (4-0, 1-0) handed the ball twice to Atkins to stay in field goal range, then sent out Rawlins. He played football his freshman year at Lake Braddock but gave the sport up the next two seasons to focus on soccer.
“My first love,” he said.
But when his senior football season rolled around, he couldn’t resist the urge to go out for the team.
“This is the last chance I’ll ever have to do this,” he said.
Poythress needed a kicker and was happy to bring him back. Earlier this season, Rawlins made a 45-yard field goal.
On fourth down and goal from the 6-yard line, the snap was good, the hold was good and Rawlins smacked his foot into the ball.
“Pure ecstasy,” he said he felt as the ball sailed through the goal posts.
Soon, though, he said he will forget about it, per Woodside’s orders.
“I’ll say it was just another kick,” Rawlins said. “And I got to take it.”