SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — Hurricane’s hopes of reaching the second round of the Class AAA playoffs went up in smoke Saturday afternoon during a windy, blustery day in the Eastern Panhandle.
Keyshawn Robinson scored a pair of touchdowns 12 seconds apart late in the fourth quarter as No. 6 seed Jefferson rallied for a 31-18 victory over the No. 11 Redskins. It marked just the second playoff win for the Cougars since 2005, and they’ll travel to Bridgeport next Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Hurricane (6-5) had taken the lead at 18-14 on a 4-yard touchdown run by Elijah Rivera with 11:01 left in the game, a score helped along by a 58-yard pass from Ismael Borrero to Lucas Rippetoe, and that lead held until the final fateful stages as the Redskins turned it over thrice on interceptions in the fourth quarter as winds gusted to 30 mph.
Still ahead 18-14, the Redskins were driving, led by their running game, inside the red zone past the midway mark of the fourth quarter when a play-action pass on second and 7 went awry and was intercepted by Jefferson’s Bryan Fleming at his own 2-yard line.
“I think that was the biggest mistake of the game,’’ said Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor. “We were pounding the ball and had them on their heels, I think. We throw the ball out in the flat and they covered it, our quarterback got spun around and they picked it off.
“That changed the whole momentum of the game. If we had kicked that in, I think we run away with it. We should have ran the ball until they stopped us, but we didn’t. Up 18-14 with the ball at their 20, nine times out of 10 you pound it in, you win.’’
A few moments later, Jefferson’s Robinson hauled in a 70-yard touchdown pass from Sammy Roberts with 4:19 remaining to put the Cougars back in front at 21-18. The Redskins’ injury-depleted secondary had just one starter in the game at that point.
Hurricane then muffed the ensuing kickoff and had to cover the ball at its own 10. An attempted screen pass was picked off by Robinson and returned 5 yards for a Cougars touchdown to bump the lead to 28-18 with 4:07 to go.
“It was a big 12 seconds,’’ said Jefferson coach Craig Hunter. “I think Keyshawn was a little down from fumbling the ball on the [second-half] kickoff. I know he was looking for a way to make it up. he made it up in two ways.
“After that, I gave him a big hug, he told me, ‘I told you, coach, I got your back.’’’
Jefferson (10-1) tacked on a 35-yard field goal by Oren Humphreys with 30 seconds left to close out the scoring.
Hurricane led 6-0 after the first quarter on a 2-yard scoring run by Brogan Brown following a Cougars turnover. Jefferson jumped in front 14-6 at halftime on a pair of TD runs by Fleming of 17 and 2 yards.
The Redskins cut their deficit to 14-12 early in the third quarter when they cashed in another Jefferson turnover with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Borrero to Rippetoe on a ball that was deflected twice.
Rivera’s TD run then put the Redskins back in front at the outset of the fourth quarter, setting the stage for the frantic finish.
“We had to play a perfect game and didn’t,’’ Taylor said. “We didn’t do enough to win — too many turnovers and too many penalties, over 100 yards in penalties. Penalties killed us on several drives in the first half. I think four times we had long gains called back for holding.’’