Patriots get another chance, and Furman makes the most of it

By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 29, 2009

All Josh Furman wanted was a second chance. He got it, and now Old Mill is going to its first state championship game on the strength of its fabulous senior running back.

After fumbling inside the Sherwood 20-yard line with less than four minutes left, Old Mill regained possession with 94 seconds to play. The Patriots drove 82 yards, capped by Furman's six-yard touchdown run and subsequent two-point conversion with 17 seconds left to give Old Mill a 20-13 win over defending champion Sherwood in a Maryland 4A semifinal before an estimated 3,500 in Sandy Spring.

A sluggish first three quarters gave way to a stunning fourth that began with Sherwood at the Old Mill 1 following a 54-yard run by Kye Hopkins. Sumner Wubbenhorst then scored three plays later to give Sherwood its first lead, 13-12.

After the teams traded punts on the next two possessions, Old Mill drove to the Sherwood 25, where the Patriots faced fourth and three. On a direct snap to Furman, he ran up the middle for a first down before he was stripped of the ball. Sherwood's Alex Cole fell on it at the 12 with 3 minutes 49 seconds left.

Old Mill (11-2) seemed deflated, but did Furman think the Patriots were beaten?

"No, I didn't," he said. "I knew my defense would get us back the ball and give us another chance."

Wubbenhorst ran 60 yards on the next play, and the game seemed well in hand. But Old Mill stopped Sherwood (10-3) by about a foot on a fourth-and-four run at the 18 with 1:34 left.

Built around running backs Furman (201 yards, two touchdowns) and Jason Clements, Old Mill was hardly built for the two-minute offense. But quarterback Joe Thornton hit Clements on a 13-yard swing pass, then ran for 11 and 13 yards sandwiched around an incompletion.

Then came the game's most improbable play -- a play-action heave from Thornton to senior Dominic Gibson, who leapt between two defenders and made the catch at the 11.

Two illegal substitution penalties on Sherwood, a two-yard run from Furman, a sneak from Thornton and an Old Mill illegal procedure penalty followed and gave the Patriots first and goal at the 6 with 23 seconds left.

The call was simple: a pitch to Furman around the right end.

"They were hitting pretty hard," he said, "but I just had to push through. We're going to the championship."

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