They came close again, but as midnight neared, the postseason Cinderella story ended for the seventh-seeded Yorktown Patriots in the region football playoffs.
The visiting Patriots (7-5) lost to the sixth-seeded Westfield Bulldogs, 21-14, the night of Nov. 17 in a 6D North Region tournament-semifinal high-school game.
The week before, Yorktown rallied with a late touchdown to upset the host, second-seed and undefeated South Lakes Seahawks, 7-6, in a first-round contest.
Against Westfield, Yorktown had another late-game rally in the making, but a potential game-tying scoring drive ended on the Bulldogs’ seven-yard line when a fourth-down pass from quarterback Hudson Greene fell incomplete with 26 seconds left. Westfield then ran out the clock.
Yorktown moved the ball through the air against Westfield (9-3), but never led, falling behind 14-0 in the second quarter and trailing 21-7 at halftime.
“We started slow and fell behind, and that hurt, but we ended strong,” Yorktown coach Bruce Hanson said.
What hurt Yorktown most were two lost fumbles, multiple untimely penalties, a short punt, followed by a 15-yard penalty, that gave Westfield good field position, a long kickoff return and not stopping the Bulldogs' running game in the first half. Westfield did not score in the second half.
"Our defense did the job in the second half," Hanson said.
Yorktown cut the lead to 14-7 in the second quarter on Greene’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Chris Montecino then Max Yoon’s extra point. In the third period, a nine-yard Greene to Michael Merritt TD pass and Yoon’s conversion cut the lead to 21-14. Yorktown’s Finn Luca intercepted a Westfield pass on its ensuing possession, and returned the ball to the Bulldogs 22. Yorktown, though, didn’t score.
The Patriots’ final two possessions ended with a lost fumble, then the game-ending drive to the Bulldog’s seven.
“We passed the ball well and Hudson played great again, and we had other opportunities to score and didn’t,” Hanson said.
Greene was 17 of 25 passing for 200 yards with no interceptions. Montecino had nine catches for 81 yards and Luca caught five for 79. Merritt, Owen Woodward and Adam Rafi each caught one. Coby Casalengo led Yorktown in rushing with 45 yards, Greene ran for 27 and Montecino for 12.
Yorktown had a big defensive stop when Eathan Blackwell intercepted a deflected pass in the end zone, ending Westfield’s 12-play drive to open the game. Westfield then scored touchdowns on three of its next four possessions to build leads of 14-0 and 21-7.Yorktown had 284 total yards and Westfield 265.
Hanson said the victory over South Lakes a week before made the season satisfying and "worthwhile" for the Patriots, who were disappointed they did not win the Liberty District this season, finishing 3-3 with three close losses by a total of nine points.
"The way things worked out, I think we would have rather beaten South Lakes like we did than win the district," Hanson said. "We were playing better our last three games."
NOTES: Greene threw for 511 yards and three touchdowns in two region playoff games. Montecino had 15 catches for 218 yards and two TDs and Luca had 12 catches for 199 . . . Yorktown last won a region championship in 1999. The Patriots also lost in last season's region semifinals.