It stood to reason that Osbourn senior kicker Jay Graham, he of the power leg, would kick a game-winning field goal at some point this season. Friday did not look like that time, however, not when Potomac scored an apparent touchdown to take a commanding 17-point lead on the visiting Eagles midway through the third quarter.
But the deficit did not remain 17 points for long. The officials decided to take the touchdown off the board after Potomac had lined up to kick off. So instead, it remained 10 points.
By the time the tempestuous night was over, Osbourn had sneaked out of Dumfries with a 13-10 overtime win that had Potomac administrators and coaches vowing they were playing the game under protest, if such a remedy exists.
First the overtime: Tied at 10 at the end of regulation, Potomac took possession first and promptly picked up its 10th penalty of the game. Three incompletions followed. The Panthers trotted out freshman Eric Dobratz, who had kicked a 34-yarder earlier in the game. This time, his 32-yard attempt barely made it over the scrum of linemen and fell short of the goalposts.
On its overtime possession, Osbourn picked up five yards on a first-down run and promptly brought on Graham. A timeout did not ice the senior, whose 22-yarder gave the Eagles just their third win in 12 tries against Potomac.
"It was more nerve-wracking than the first field goal, really," said Graham, who had connected on a 25-yarder with 2 minutes 25 seconds left in the game to knot the score at 10, and had planted all three of his kickoffs into the end zone. "It's a really big game, because this sets our season right here."
Osbourn (2-2, 1-0 in the Cedar Run District) trailed 10-0 in the fourth quarter when they took possession at the Potomac 19-yard line after the Panthers had been forced to punt from their own end zone after a penalty and sack. Sophomore Brandon Hogan hooked up with Chris Ngov for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 9:10 left in regulation.
Coming off a 55-point performance last week, Potomac (2-2, 0-1) could not muster much of an attack, other than a 22-yard halfback option pass from senior Michael Plater to junior Anthony Arellano in the second quarter. That came right after senior Ato Hammond had blocked a punt that senior Myron Rowell recovered.
The disputed touchdown came after Dobratz's field goal in the third quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, the ball was trickling inside the 5-yard line but did not go out of bounds. Two Osbourn players watched the ball and Potomac senior Michael Vann ended up with it in the end zone. The officials signaled touchdown, and Dobratz kicked the extra point to momentarily make it 17-0.
But after the teams lined up to kick off, the officials ruled the earlier kick a touchback. So instead of it being 17-0, it was 10-0 and Osbourn took the ball on its own 20.
Potomac Coach Ben Stutler and assistant Jerry Roadcap argued vehemently against the call, and Stutler later in the game told the head official he was playing the game under protest, but the official told him there was no such thing.
After Graham kicked the game-winning field goal, Stutler berated the head official, yelling, "You changed the game!" and other comments as the officials left the field. Several minutes later, in his office, Stutler was still too upset to discuss the play at length.
"[The officials said] the ball had to be possessed," Stutler said, "and it wasn't possessed before it went into the end zone; it was touched but it wasn't possessed, and I don't believe that's the rule. Regardless of the rule or not, after the next play is run, you can't go back and change a previous play. The extra point was kicked. We were lined up to kick off. . . . It's not a correctable error after that. If he had caught it before the extra point -- and [if] that is the rule -- then that's fine. But it's not. It's over. It happened. It was in the past. You can't go back at that point."