It was almost a clean sweep.
Meadowbrook was less than two minutes and an onside kick recovery away from making it seven wins in seven games for Chesterfield County in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, but it wasn't meant to be. But let's start with the surprises:
6A SOUTH FIRST ROUND:
#8 James River 13, #1 C.D. Hylton 8: The Rapids (7-4) went to the top seed and held them to a lone 95-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion, then rode their defense the rest of the way, holding on for the big upset win over the top seed. The Rapids took a 13-0 lead to intermission. Next, James River gets to stay much closer to home to face a familiar rival in the second round, because....
#5 Cosby 20, #4 Forest Park 17 (OT): After losing four of their last five games, the Titans (7-4) had little momentum entering the postseason, and, on the road, they played from behind all night. But they forced overtime, their defense came up big, and a field goal was just enough as Cosby erased the hurt of the past five weeks in one fell swoop. With the top seed losing, the Titans are the surprise hosts of a second round game next week against the Rapids. James River won their regular season meeting 13-6 on October 10th. That was Cosby's first loss of the year after a 5-0 start.
#2 Thomas Dale 45, #7 Riverbend 42 (3 OT): Will we have a triple overtime thriller every year in the first round? Last year, it was Manchester falling in a classic, tonight it was Thomas Dale clawing back from a 14-point deficit to force overtime as Eric Finney scored on a 50-yard screen pass as time was running out in regulation. Both teams scored touchdowns in the first two overtimes. Dale was held to a field goal in their half of the third extra session. Riverbend advanced to the 2-yard line and had two plays from there to score and win. They failed on third down, elected not to kick a tying field goal, and fell short on fourth down as the Knights won their ninth straight game, and advance to host #3 Colonial Forge in the second round.
5A SOUTH CENTRAL FIRST ROUND:
#2 Manchester 39, #7 Douglas Freeman 21: The Lancers exact revenge for last year's triple overtime heartbreaking loss to end the season, moving to 11-0 with authority. The game was never close as the Lancers jumped out to an early lead and didn't look back, leading 19-0 at the half. Quarterback Daniel Rose had 78 yards rushing and a score, plus threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns. Manchester will host Hermitage in a battle of unbeatens next Friday.
#4 L.C. Bird 34, #5 Atlee 13: For the second straight year, the Skyhawks ran wild, literally, over the Raider defense to win their 10th consecutive playoff game. Stephen Mines scored three touchdowns and ran for 244 yards while Jalen Elliott completed five of eight passes for 143 yards and two scores. All of the completions were to Tyler Wilkins, who stymied the Atlee secondary all night long. The Skyhawks, now 9-2, next go to #1 Highland Springs to try to do what Meadowbrook almost did....
#1 Highland Springs 34, #8 Meadowbrook 29: The Monarchs led all night long, had a 15-point lead with eight minutes left. But the quick-strike Springers offense lived up to their reputation when it mattered most, scoring three touchdowns in just over six minutes to survive. A touchdown to Greg Dortch cut the lead to 29-27, but the Springers failed on the tying two-point try. Highland Springs then had to try the onside kick, which they recovered. Juwan Carter found Dortch again for the winning score with just 33 seconds left. Meadowbrook ends the season at 5-6.
4A SOUTH FIRST ROUND:
#3 Monacan 46, #14 Smithfield 14: The Chiefs impressively improved to 9-2, leading big early in their first home playoff game in nearly three decades. Khalik Hamlin rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns to help lead Monacan into the second round, where they will face the winner of Saturday night's game between Phoebus and Nansemond River. The Chiefs host next week, no matter who wins.