DUNDALK, MD., NOV. 21 -- On a field full of snow and icy patches, Laurel's Dan Johnson found enough good footing to gain 162 yards and lead the Spartans to a 14-6 Maryland Class A state semifinal victory over Overlea of Baltimore County today at Dundalk Community College.

"This was a tough game; I mean it was cold," said dreary-eyed Laurel Coach Chuck Hickes, whose team will play Linganore for the state title next weekend at the University of Maryland.

"It was brutal, but it was safe for both teams. They just had to block the cold out and they both did that. It doesn't matter who we play next week, we're just happy to be there."

It was Johnson's brisk running and an iron-wall defense that enabled the Spartans (11-1) to reach the state final. With the wind making throwing difficult and the slippery field slowing the runners, neither team expected to score much.

Laurel's first touchdown came early in the second quarter. Beginning from their 46, the Spartans went on a 12-play drive that ended with halfback Mark Winkey scoring on a four-yard run for a 6-0 lead.

The cold forced both teams to retreat to their buses at halftime, but only Laurel came out incandescent to start the third quarter. After forcing Overlea (11-2) to punt, the Spartans took over at their 23.

Three successive carries by Johnson moved them to the 34, but the Falcons stiffened for a few plays, pushing Laurel back to the 32.

But on third down, Spartans quarterback Kevin Dukes avoided a horde of Overlea defenders and threw a screen pass across field to Johnson. He bobbled the ball, but caught it and followed his blockers to the Overlea 12. Four plays later, Dukes ran up the middle from the 1 to give Laurel a commanding 12-0 lead. Dukes threw to Craig Leffler in the back of the end zone on the conversion to boost the lead to 14-0.

Overlea's only touchdown came on its next drive as Robert Johnson scored on an eight-yard run.

"All I was doing was basically running for my life," Johnson said of his performance. "On the screen we ran, he {Dukes} threw the ball kind of high and my hands were kind of frozen and the ball bounced off my hands and went up, but I turned around and it was right there. I just followed my blockers from there."Laurel (11-1) 0 6 8 0 14 Overlea (11-2) 0 0 6 0 6

L -- Winkey 4 run (pass failed)

L -- Dukes 1 run (Leffler pass from Dukes)

O -- Johnson 8 run (run failed)