By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 9, 2006
BALTIMORE, Dec. 8 -- Sixth-ranked Suitland trailed by three touchdowns one play into the second quarter. With less than seven minutes left, it was a two-touchdown margin and every time the Rams crept closer, it seemed a special teams miscue derailed them.
Somehow, though, Suitland found its way, completing the biggest comeback in Maryland championship game history. Quarterback Carlos Fields scored a game-tying touchdown on the final play of regulation and linebacker Travis McCain burst through the line of scrimmage to snuff out Sherwood's potential game-winning two-point conversion run in overtime as Suitland defeated 11th-ranked Sherwood, 39-38, in the Maryland 4A title game Friday night at M&T Bank Stadium.
"It's unbelievable," Rams Coach Nick Lynch said. "It's a miracle."
It was the second title in three years for Suitland (13-1), which lost its season opener before winning its final 13 games.
The Rams had watched the football-themed movie "Friday Night Lights" on the bus ride to the game, as Lynch tried to motivate his team. "You can make your own 'Friday Night Lights,' " he told them.
The first half was mostly a horror show for the Rams, who fell behind 21-0 as Sherwood moved the ball at will and scored on its first three possessions. As about 4,000 frigid fans prepared for a blowout, Lynch thought to himself: "Let's keep plugging away. Let's make it respectable."
Even after Suitland began its comeback, the Rams kept hurting themselves. And when a high snap on a punt led to a six-yard touchdown run by Sherwood's Dominique Budd, the Warriors led 32-19 with less than seven minutes left. It seemed as though Suitland would be left with the moral victory of making a valiant effort.
"I wouldn't say we were done, but that was tough," Lynch said.
Suitland pulled within 32-26 on a one-yard touchdown run by Emmanuel Williams with three minutes left, then the Rams' defense held and forced a punt. Taking over on the Sherwood 42-yard line and out of timeouts with 1 minute 29 seconds left, Suitland still had hope.
The Rams moved to the 6-yard line and had one final play with four seconds left. Fields dropped back to pass, but was unable to find an open receiver and scrambled. His headfirst dive barely got the ball across the goal line for the tying score. Two penalties on Suitland meant the Rams had to try a 40-yard extra point, and it was well short.
Williams scored on a three-yard run on Suitland's first possession and the point-after kick by Yanni Davis, who earlier had missed a regulation PAT, made it 39-32.
Sherwood scored on its first play, a 10-yard run by Budd, then called timeout and went for the two-point attempt and the victory. Budd, who rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns, took a toss to the left, but McCain surged into the backfield and made the hit. Budd desperately tried to throw the ball, but the fluttering pass fell incomplete, setting off delirium among Suitland's players.
"I saw the sweep and I came up," McCain said. "My natural instincts came in and I just tried to make a play. We fought hard like we've been doing all year. We didn't put our heads down. We knew we could come back."
It was the second consecutive season Sherwood (11-3) lost in the title game, but this one was much different than last season's 21-6 loss to Damascus.
"We controlled this game," Warriors running back Andral Joly said. "I don't know how it happened."