It came from the line, a crush of blue and black spilling through an overwhelmed offense and into the backfield and with a final surge to block a punt.
The Wildcats held the undefeated Bruins to a single score, and their star tailback Lamont Atkins in check. And now, the ball lay on the ground, spinning deeper into Bruins territory until a Wildcats lineman finally gobbled it up at the 35 yard-line.
Centreville had set the table for its 8-7 homecoming upset on a rainy night in Clifton.
“We decided we were going to block it,” Wildcats Coach Chris Haddock said. “That was our best opportunity to win.”
If only all such desperation plays were that easy.
At the 5-yard line, Garrett broke a tackle. At the 4, he broke another. He was wrapped up at the 3 and dove for more, the goal line in sight. The ball popped loose.
Bruins cornerback Youssof Hanifi grabbed it out of the air. Centreville halfback Deonte Edmonds pounced on him. A scrum ensued at the 2. At the 1, Edmonds wrested the ball free, and he tumbled into the end zone. Referees threw up their arms. With 16 seconds remaining in the game, the soaked crowd of roughly a thousand erupted.
“That was the play of my life,” Edmonds said. “It was a feeling I’ve never had before.”
“I still have no idea how it all happened,” Haddock said.
The chaos continued. Centreville lined up to kick an extra point. Lake Braddock called a timeout, then Centreville sent its offense back on the field for a two-point conversion and a win.
In last year’s 33-7 loss to Lake Braddock, the Bruins (4-1) went for two late in the game with the result in hand, Haddock said. A year later in a tense affair, Centreville returned the favor.
“Pretty much a no-brainer,” Haddock said.
Siler pitched to Garrett, who ran left and into the end zone, untouched.
“Elation,” Garrett said he felt as he crossed the goal line. “A play earlier, I thought I had cost my team the game.”
Now he’d won it.
Lake Braddock entered the game riding Atkins’s massive production in the run game, but the Wildcats held him to 65 yards on 15 carries.
“That’s the best back in the state,” Haddock said of Atkins in his team’s postgame huddle. Atkins has rushed now for 920 yards and 13 touchdowns in five games. “And I’ll take No. 4 [Garrett] every day and twice on Sundays.”
Garrett ran for 85 yards on 22 carries, and Edmonds added 51 more on nine rushes.
A kickoff and two failed Hail Mary pass attempts after their conversion, the upset was complete. Students rushed the field.
Haddock stood in his team’s postgame huddle and screamed with joy.