Long after the band has packed its instruments away, the dissonant sounds of the vuvuzelas and air horns have ceased, and the stadium lights have been extinguished, the red-and-gold clad, foot-stomping Goochland partisans who cheered themselves hoarse Friday night will still be talking about Jordan Jefferson's shining moment that saved the Bulldogs' season.
With coach Joe Fowler's contingent clinging tenuously to a 16-12 lead over King William in the Group A, Division 2 quarterfinals, the Cavaliers lined up at the home team's 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal with 37 seconds remaining.
Quarterback Freeman McPhearson, who usually operates from the shotgun, was under center. D.J. Johnson, usually a wide receiver, took a spot in the backfield just outside the right tackle. Two tight ends bolstered the line.
From the film study, Goochland defenders packing the box recognized the alignment, anticipated sweep and slanted slightly to their left.
A split-second after taking the snap, McPhearson pitched to Johnson, who lit out to his right.
Stationed just inside the wide receiver and two steps deep in the end zone, Jefferson read the play perfectly, kept his eye on the prize and dropped Johnson three inches shy of the goal line.
"He cut it in, and I went full-speed up in there and hit him about belt-level," said Jefferson, a 5-foot-9, 140-pound freshman who was promoted to the varsity five games ago. "He had to go through me to score. I had to step up."
McPhearson, who rushed 13 times for 71 yards and completed 11 of 24 passes for 178 yards, gave the Bulldogs fits all night. He threw a 35-yard pass to Keith Montgomery for the Cavaliers' first touchdown at 9:06 of the first quarter.
Goochland (13-0) answered with a 14-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard run by David Dyer and Colby Cooke's point after.
With King William (12-1) trailing 7-6 midway through the third period, McPhearson connected with Brandon Fuller for a 66-yard gain that set up Shawn Chandler's 1-yard run at 6:25 that gave the visitors a 12-6 lead.
The Bulldogs then drove 53 yards in eight plays, the last a 1-yard sweep of left end by Jake Martin for a 13-12 lead.
After Mason Engel intercepted a pass, Cooke drilled a 31-yard field goal with eight minutes remaining in the game.
And on KW's final series, McPhearson — an athletic 6-2, 200-pound junior — took the Cavaliers 61 yards on 14 plays before Jefferson's dramatic goal-line stop.
"The clock is ticking, many things are going through my mind, and we've got to make a play right here," said Dan Summitt, Goochland's defensive coordinator. "We put our best players in the best position, tell them what we think will happen, and they perform for us."
Goochland will host Wilson Memorial on Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. in the Division II semifinals.