Chopticon 27, Patuxent 24
One week after overcoming an eight-point deficit in the final five minutes to defeat Huntingtown, Chopticon found itself in an even bigger hole Friday night at Patuxent, trailing by 13 with just over six minutes left in the game.
But just as they did a week ago, the Braves rallied. They forced overtime Friday on running back Darron Showalter's one-yard run, his second touchdown of the game, with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.
After Patuxent converted a 26-yard field goal on its first possession of overtime, Braves quarterback Justin McVerry lofted a pass to the back left corner of the end zone on second down that dropped right into the waiting arms of wide receiver Robbie Thomas, giving Chopticon a 27-24 win and setting off a raucous celebration by the visiting Braves and their fans.
"I can't do this every week. I'm going to have a heart attack next time," said McVerry, who was 10 of 19 for 159 yards. "We've been working hard in practice, and we don't come here to lose, we come here to win."
The win left Chopticon (3-0 overall, 3-0 SMAC) and Westlake as the conference's only unbeatens. Patuxent fell to 1-2, 1-2.
Things didn't start particularly well for the Braves. On their first possession, Panthers lineman Michael Gallo blocked Chopticon's punt, setting up quarterback Adam Colvin's seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jonathan Wagner and a 7-0 Patuxent lead.
The Panthers stretched that lead to 21-6 by halftime, getting another touchdown pass from Colvin, this time to tight end Kurt Bruce, and an eight-yard run from Robert McClain shortly before halftime. Throughout the third quarter and the early minutes of the fourth quarter, Patuxent pounded out the yards on the ground, melting time off the clock and denying Chopticon the opportunity to get back in the game until the Braves recovered a Panthers fumble with 9 minutes 54 seconds left and began to rally.
"We may not have the best talent out there every game, but we get the most out of it, and we never quit," said Tony Lisanti, Chopticon's first-year coach. "I knew we were going to come back, it was just a matter of when."
After the turnover, McVerry and the Braves took to the air, eating up large chunks of yardage before McVerry found tight end Ivan Cerkez for a four-yard scoring strike. He followed that with a difficult completion to Cerkez again for the two-point conversion. Then came the heroics of Showalter at the end of regulation and McVerry and Thomas in overtime.
"No one believes in us at all, so we're just coming out and proving them wrong every week," Thomas said. "This year, we're playing as a family, and that's what Coach has been stressing in practice."
Their win over Huntingtown last week marked the first time since 1997 that the Braves have started a season with consecutive wins. Lisanti, who has been a coach at Chopticon for 17 years, can't remember the last time the school had a team undefeated after three games.
"We understand that the game is never over until we make our final play," an elated Lisanti said. "The boys have a lot of heart."