Washington leans on Zahmere Robinson to stop upset-minded Brentwood

Friday, November 15, 2019 | 11:10 PM

After Washington’s Zahmere Robinson fumbled for the first time this year in a third quarter that saw Brentwood surging, he went to the sidelines and told his teammates he’d make up for it.

“I told them that (fumble) was my fault, but I had their back,” he said.

Robinson was true to his word, because when the game was on the line, he put the Little Prexies on his back and carried them to an appearance in the WPIAL Class 2A championship game.

Robinson ran the ball 11 times on a drive that lasted nearly eight minutes in the fourth quarter and scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown on a 5-yard run with 1 minute, 41 seconds remaining in a 20-14 win for the top-seeded Little Prexies over No. 4 Brentwood on Friday night in the semifinals at Chartiers Valley.

Washington (13-0) will go for its second WPIAL title in three years when it faces No. 2 Avonworth in the Class 2A final Saturday at Norwin. Brentwood finished (10-3).

With the score tied 14-14, Washington started at its own 20 with nine minutes remaining and put the ball in Robinson’s hands. At one point, he rushed seven times in a row and picked up 70 of the 80 yards on the drive.

Robinson, a senior, joked that he was getting winded but was happy to come through for his teammates.

“I was getting real tired because it was blast, blast and then a bunch of pitches,” Robinson said. “The line made me look good. I found the holes, and they blocked for me so I could do my thing.”

The only play that wasn’t a Robinson run on the game-winning drive was a fourth-down pass from Zack Swartz to Caleb Jackson that picked up 10 yards on a fourth-and-7.

“I just did my job,” Swartz said. “It was a quick route, so I scrambled a bit and then threw it. Caleb Jackson did a terrific job on that play and in the entire fourth quarter. He and Zhamere came up big for us and helped us win this game.”

Brentwood had one last opportunity and got the ball down to the Washington 43, but Jackson intercepted a John Milcic pass on a fourth-down play to seal the win.

The Spartans, who were in the semifinals for the first time since 2006, trailed 14-0 at halftime, but came out strong second half.

Milcic hit a wide open Eddie Gomez in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown that capped the opening drive of the second half and cut Washington’s lead in half.

After forcing the Little Prexies to go three and out, Milcic threw a short pass to Aiden Wardzinsky and Wardzinsky broke free, going 72 yards down the sideline before he was tackled at the Washington 4.

Two plays later, Milcic scored on a 3-yard run and Gomez’s extra point tied the game 14-14 with 5:28 remaining in the third.

Robinson’s fumble came on the next possession and set up Brentwood at the Washington 43, but the Spartans turned the ball over on downs at the 24.

“I thought we played well the entire game, but in the first half we couldn’t’ score,” Brentwood coach Kevin Kissel said. “They put forth a great effort like they have all year. They don’t care how big they are or how outnumbered they are, they battle to the end. Every kid in that locker room believes they should have won that game.”

Washington had to overcome being penalized 15 times for more than 100 yards. Almost all of the penalties were procedure fouls. The Little Prexies had three consecutive procedure fouls on a 2-point conversion attempt after the go-ahead score before they did not convert.

“We had our struggles tonight and we made some mistakes, but at the end of the day, we hung in there and finished,” Washington coach Mike Bosnic said. “We’re in a great position now to play for a championship.”

Swartz scored on runs of 1 and 11 yards in the first half.

With the win, Washington’s senior class surpassed the 2001 state championship team for most wins in a four-year span at 47. The Little Prexies will play for their ninth WPIAL title next Saturday.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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