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By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Skyline's football game with Millbrook wasn't for the faint of heart, but for those who love their football with hard hitting, costly turnovers, last-second heroics and unsung heroes, Pioneer Stadium was the place to be Friday night.
Skyline tailback Dayvon Haight, who didn't touch the ball in the first half, ran for 62 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns in the second half. It was his last two carries, however, that made the difference.
Facing first-and-10 on the Millbrook 26-yard line with eight seconds left and the game tied 20-20, Haight ran the ball to Pioneers' 1, then scored on the last play of the game to give his Hawks a dramatic 26-20 win.
"What an exciting game," Skyline coach Heath Gilbert said. "We didn't panic when things weren't going our way late in the game. We just did what we do and kept our poise. Dayvon really came through and so did the rest of the team."
The victory keeps Skyline (3-3, 2-0 in district) in a tie for first place in Northwestern District play and sets up a showdown with Sherando for the district crown.
Haight's heroics spoiled a determined Millbrook (2-4, 0-1) effort that was marred with penalties and fumbles though most the game.
"We just made too many mistakes," Pioneers coach Reed Prosser said. "We made mistakes the whole game. Skyline took advantage of every break we gave them. But we just made too many mistakes. We turned the ball over a lot, which is uncharacteristic for us."
Skyline's game-winning drive was effectively stopped when Hawks quarterback Aaron Jeremiah was sacked for an 8-yard loss with eight seconds left at the Pioneer 42, but a Millbrook facemask penalty gave Skyline new life at the Millbrook 26. The very next play was Haight's dramatic 25-yard run to set up the winning touchdown.
Millbrook ended the night with six penalties for 60 yards. The Pioneers also coughed up the ball three times on fumbles, two of which resulted in touchdown drives by Skyline of less than 10 yards.
Those mistakes cost the Pioneers the game in the end, but their effort throughout it was nothing short of epic.
With the score tied 14-14, the Hawks drove the ball 58 yards on 11 plays to take the lead 20-14 with 5:09 to play on a 2-yard run by Haight, but a spectacular play by a little-used Pioneer gave his team a chance to win.
Sophomore Justin Singh raced past the Skyline defense, threw his 5-foot-7, 122-pound body into the air and blocked Sergio Mateo-Molina's extra point try, giving the Hawks a tenuous six-point lead with plenty of time left for a Millbrook drive for the winning touchdown.
And that's exactly what the Pioneers seemed to do.
"Justin just made a huge play to block that PAT," Prosser said. "He made a great effort. We had faith in our kids that they would go down the field and in tie it up after that."
Relying on the running of tailback Logan Rodeffer, and a diving catch by receiver Tre White, Millbrook drove the ball 68 yards on 11 plays to score and tie the game. Rodeffer rushed for 29 yards and caught an 11-yard pass from Pioneers quarterback Justin Neff during the drive. White got the drive going with a 29-yard reception that set the Pioneers up on the Hawks' 39.
Neff scored the touchdown to tie the game 20-20 with 1:19 left, and all that was needed for Millbrook to take the lead was a successful extra point by place kicker Derek Davis.
Hawks defensive lineman Anthony Meador had other ideas, though, and blocked the extra point, leaving the game tied.
Despite the loss, Singh got the last laugh on special teams heroics, blocking Mateo-Molina's extra point attempt after Haight's last-play touchdown.
Rodeffer also made his presence felt throughout the game, rushing for 166 yards on 17 carries, including an 80-yard scamper for a touchdown early in the second quarter.