After three hours of drama, Westfield was six yards away from a potential touchdown against Freedom-Woodbridge in the Virginia Class 6 semifinal. Down just 21 minutes earlier, the Bulldogs, the winners of 37 draws and seeking a fourth consecutive title, had launched a torrid rally and needed an extra room to play at home.
The Eagles would not let them have it. The ball was broken, the transfer was given, the offensive line was mastered and the race was crammed, giving Freedom a superb 35-28 win and giving it a date next week against Manchester for the state championship of the highest ranking of Virginia.
This is the first loss of the Bulldogs No. 4 since October 7, 2016 and marks the highest number of points that Westfield (13-1) has scored since this fight.
"We knew we could do it since Monday," said Eagles quarterback Quest Powell. "From the beginning of the season, really. We knew we could be here on this stage. "
Most of Saturday's game went without the two most announced players in northern Virginia. Westfield quarterback Noah Kim, leader and playmaker of the Bulldogs, and Freedom-Woodbridge midfielder TyQuan Brown, Prince William County top scorer, all collapsed in the first half due to injury. Brown had a sprained shoulder, while Kim had a serious leg injury that required an ambulance.
Brown's replacement, the second year, Julian Edwards, was admirably fulfilled. Powell was forced by the average assists of his consistent runners, while Eagles No. 9 (13-1) led 21-7 to half.
"It's not because TyQuan came out that our morale went down. Our best player came out and every child continued to play, "said coach Darryl Overton.
Jason Hawkins' second set of touchdowns gave the Eagles a 35-14 lead with just under 10 minutes left, and that's when Westfield woke up. Former Taylor Morin, who took shots in a wildcat formation, pitched for a quick score, then scooped and scored on a screen pass fumbled to make it 35-28 to three minutes from the end.
Westfield forced a three-point attack and then blocked the Eagles 'punt, giving them the ball at the Eagles' 15-yard line with 50 seconds to go. But the defense of Liberty refused to break, meeting Westfield in the backfield the fourth down to seal the win.
In the Virginia Class 4 semifinal, Woodgrove beat Blacksburg 26-23 in overtime. He will face Lake Taylor in the championship.