With the La Plata wrestling team's dual meet against Chopticon riding on his performance in the 145-pound match, junior Brandon Jennings tried his hardest not to waste all the adrenaline that was pumping before the match.
In the frantic final bout, Jennings took control early and kept it until the end to earn a 7-1 decision over Chopticon's Bryan Butler and clinch the Warriors' 28-27 victory over the Braves on Tuesday night.
"I've been in the final match a few times before, and those times I used all my energy right at the start," Jennings said. "Any time you're in a final match, you're going to be psyched for it. This time, I was just trying to control myself so I would still have energy left in the third period."
Along with a 51-10 victory over McDonough that La Plata also earned Tuesday, the Warriors are in good position to capture the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference's regular-season dual meet title for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
The Warriors already have dual meet victories over Northern and Calvert, as well as first-place finishes in the Braves Invitational and the Patriot Classic.
Nothing came easy for the Warriors in Tuesday's final dual meet, which Chopticon led until the very end. A pin by 152-pound Eli Black and a 6-0 decision by 160-pound Jay Taylor gave the Braves an early 9-0 lead. After La Plata 171-pounder David Alger earned a 6-1 decision, Teddy Wilkins gave the Braves a 12-3 lead when he broke a 5-5 tie on a buzzer-beating reversal at the end of the 189-pound bout.
A John Payne pin and a 5-2 decision for La Plata heavyweight freshman Eric Jobe tied the match at 12, but three victories in a row by the Chopticon lightweights -- 103-pounder Lucas Black (4-0 decision), 112-pounder Michael Cannon (pin) and 119-pounder Brandon Hammett (8-3 decision) -- gave Chopticon a 24-12 lead.
La Plata 125-pounder Joey Farrell and 130-pounder Zach Jones cut Chopticon's lead to 24-19, but 135-pounder Michael Mattingly won a decision to push the Braves up 27-19.
A pin by La Plata 140-pounder Josh Weimert set up Jennings's win in the finale.
Jennings earned a takedown in each period of his match against Butler.
"You're always worried when the pressure is on like that," Warriors Coach Todd Sharp said. "But [Jennings] just dominated."
The Warriors' 51-10 victory over McDonough in the evening's second dual meet was decisive, but not without some dramatic performances by La Plata.
The Warriors recorded seven pins while receiving down-to-the-wire decisions by Alger, Jobe and 125-pounder Matt Orzechowski.
Jobe trailed 5-4 in an exciting bout against heavyweight Jeremy Hairston before he tied it by escaping Hairston's grip with 45 seconds remaining. With less than 10 seconds left and the score tied, Hairston appeared to be near a takedown, but Jobe spun out of Hairston's grasp and took him down, scoring two points with two seconds remaining for a 7-5 win.
"The first time I faced Hairston at the Lackey Tournament, I got pinned in 30 seconds," Jobe said. "Today I just wanted to make sure I didn't get under him, because he's about 30 pounds heavier than me.
"At the end I heard everyone yelling that I was stalling, and that's when I spun and made the takedown."
Alger won his match over McDonough's Ryan Patterson by avoiding a takedown in the final minute of the match. Then Orzechowski beat Josh Borders when he responded to a Borders takedown with a reversal with three seconds left in their match.
"The first match, I definitely didn't expect that," Sharp said. "I knew we could win, but I didn't expect that margin."
Chopticon won the first meet of the night with a 48-24 victory over McDonough. Lucas Black, Chad Maxwell, Bryan Butler, Eli Black, Taylor and Nick Dyson earned pins for the Braves.
Chopticon's Michael Cannon controls 112-pound match against Dusty Langley of McDonough. Braves beat Rams, 48-24.