Solomon Vault’s hard work pays off for Gaithersburg; Wootton beats Whitman for first time in four years

Toni L. Sandys/WASHINGTON POST - Gaithersburg’s Solomon Vault (right), shown last year against Sherwood, scored the winning touchdown against Richard Montgomery on Friday night.

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Gaithersburg junior running back Solomon Vault still has the speed that helped him rush for over 1,000 yards as a sophomore – and he showed it on an 80-yard touchdown sprint in Friday night’s 33-30 win over Richard Montgomery.

But Vault isn’t the same wiry runner he was a year ago. He’s added 20 pounds to become a more balanced back, and that transformation couldn’t have been more evident than on his game-winning run with seven seconds left against the Rockets (0-1). Vault took an inside zone hand off from the Richard Montgomery 5-yard line, and broke two tackles before barely breaking the plane – capping a dramatic come-from behind win for Gaithersburg and an emphatic opening night to Vault’s season. He finished with 195 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 19 carries.

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Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from the first full slate of games in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia football seasons.

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from the first full slate of games in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia football seasons.

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FROM FRIDAY: D’Andre Johnson scored twice as fourth-ranked Quince Orchard beat Sherwood.

FROM FRIDAY: D’Andre Johnson scored twice as fourth-ranked Quince Orchard beat Sherwood.

“Last year I was pretty disappointed, because coach never gave me a chance down by the goal line,” Vault said. “So I kind of made it my focus this year to put on some more weight so I could have an opportunity down there.”

Vault called his final score Friday night the most important touchdown of his career. The play capped a wild fourth quarter for Gaithersburg (1-0). After Richard Montgomery had scored with 50 seconds remaining to take a 30-27 lead, Gaithersburg got the ball at midfield following an onside kick attempt. Richard Montgomery had recovered two onside kicks earlier in the game – and tried to catch Gaithersburg off-guard one last time.

The deception didn’t work. The first three plays of Gaithersburg’s series went nowhere, but on fourth down, quarterback Nick Decarlo rushed for about 25 yards and got out of bounds. Following a completion down to the 5-yard line, Gaithersburg Coach Kreg Kephart wanted to run Vault with 14 second remaining. And after Vault powered his way through the Richard Montgomery defense to score, Kephart realized he had a player who has truly transformed himself during the offseason.

“That last touchdown just exemplifies all the work that he’s done,” Kephart said. “If he hadn’t put on 20 pounds and wasn’t squatting 500 pounds, he’d never would’ve broke that last tackle and gotten those two yards for that last touchdown. “

Next up for Gaithersburg will be Springbrook, which gave first-year Coach Adam Bahr his first career win on Friday night in a 14-7 win over Northwood. Bahr’s defense was put to exhaustion in the third quarter after Northwood engineered a 20-play scoring drive that ran nearly 12 minutes. The Blue Devils stiffened in the fourth quarter however, and their punting game pinned Northwood insider its own 20 on three different occasions in the final stanza.

Offensively, junior tight end Robert Bass Jr. caught two touchdown passes to lead Springbrook, and is a player who Bahr believes will give his young team a legitimate vertical threat who can stretch the field and help his sophomore quarterback Neiman Blain develop.

“We have good chemistry,” said Bass Jr. of Blain, who completed 9 of 14 passes for 65 yards on Friday. “He just has a connection with everyone on the team. He’s just that kind of guy.”

Wootton beats Whitman for first time in four years

In the locker room before Friday’s game at Whitman, first-year Wootton Coach Tyree Spinner told his players — none of whom had been part of a team to beat the rival Vikings — that they could be part of a special “once in a blue moon” group to break the trend.

Of course, the coach knew Friday marked the second full moon of the month — a rare blue moon by the folklore definition. On the walk to the field, Spinner pointed skyward where the outline of the moon was already visible.

“It was pretty cool,” Spinner said. “That’s when they got the point of that whole pregame speech, and I think that got them a little bit excited.”

Whatever the motivation, the Patriots responded with a 15-3 win, beating perennial playoff contender Whitman for the first time in four years. It was Wootton’s first season-opening victory since 2006.

Freshman Trevon Diggsyounger brother of 2011 All-Met Defensive Player of the Year Stefon Diggs — scored his first career touchdown on an eight-yard run in the first quarter and set up the other touchdown with a 63-yard catch in the third quarter. Diggs also had an apparent kick return for a touchdown called back by penalty.

The team’s defense — led by seniors Ralph Bernardo and Miles Green — forced four turnovers and shut out the Vikings in the second half, sparking some refreshing early-season optimism for a program that has made just one playoff appearance in the past 20 years.

“All the bumps, bruises, injuries, the nicks and fatigue go away when you win,” Spinner said. “Hopefully, it gives them confidence that they can do this. This is possible.”

Around Montgomery

No. 19 Damascus didn’t waste any time Friday night piling up points in a 41-6 win over rival Clarksburg. The Swarmin’ Hornets scored three touchdowns before their first offensive snap of the season. Less than three minutes into the game, senior Zach Bradshaw returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown. Clarksburg’s next two possessions resulted in defensive scores for Damascus. First, senior Jack Rogers scored on a fumble return and then Bradshaw, a Virginia recruit, returned an interception 82 yards to the end zone. Senior Stephon Jacob scored another defensive touchdown in the second quarter for Damascus, which posted all its points in the first half.

Senior Naim Reid registered 46 yards on 15 carries for the Clarksburg offense, which turned the ball over three times. “We start a bunch of sophomores and juniors. They haven’t started a single game of varsity,” Clarksburg Coach Larry Hurd said. “But we’re not going to use that as an excuse.” ...

Connecticut recruit Thomas Lucas scored the first two touchdowns of the game in Paint Branch’s 41-18 season-opening win over Rockville (0-1), including a 57-yard touchdown catch on the first series and a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown on the next. But Coach Mike Nesmith insists his team must get Thomas more touches as the season progresses in order for Paint Branch (1-0) to be successful on the perimeter.

“We really think he has a lot more, to be quite honest,” Nesmith said. “We just couldn’t get him out in space. So we really think that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s he’s capable of.” ...

Magruder (1-0) used three field goals from senior Nick Gruber to edge Walter Johnson (0-1) 9-7 in their opener. Gruber connected from 34, 26 and 34 yards, with the final kick serving as the game-winner in the fourth quarter…

Junior Joshua Gills caught a touchdown pass and ran for another as Northwest (1-0) pounded Blake (0-1) 32-7 on Friday night. Gills rushed for 88 yards on nine attempts. Senior quarterback Matty Callahan completed 9 of 26 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown…

Blair’s (0-1) only points against Bethesda-Chevy Chase (1-0) came on a fourth quarter safety Saturday in a 13-2 loss, while Kennedy (0-1) was shutout by Churchill (1-0), 34-0. Churchill rushed for 274 yards in the win.

 
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