Geoff Pearce kicked three field goals and Wootton's defense shut down Gaithersburg as the Patriots defeated the No. 18 Trojans, 9-3, last night.

"We were just outmanned completely," Trojans Coach John Harvill said. "We wanted to throw the ball and get outside. I didn't know if we'd be able to move the ball tonight."

But the Patriots took away Gaithersburg's passing, limiting Trojans quarterback Jermaine Wilson to 46 yards on two completions. In fact, the Trojans managed just 87 total yards in the game.

Gaithersburg did score first. Jason Woodward's 25-yard field goal culminated an eight-play, 42-yard drive at the end of the first period.

Wootton rebounded on the next series with a 14-play, 61-yard drive. Pearce kicked a 35-yard field goal to tie the game.

"I was thinking: 'I've got to hit it. I've got to hit it because they've already scored,' " Pearce said. The field goal was the first of his career.

Wootton received the ball again with just under four minutes remaining in the half. Quarterback Mike Mehok led the Patriots deep inside Trojans territory. As time expired, Pearce's kick just cleared the crossbar for a 43-yard field goal which gave Wootton a 6-3 lead.

The Patriots closed the scoring early in the third quarter on Pearce's 36-yarder. Kyle Horlacher's 26-yard run straight through the middle of the line set up the kick.

"We knew we were going to take it through the middle to start the game. then go outside when they figured out what we were doing," Horlacher said. "But they never stopped up the middle so we kept on going."

Horlacher finished the game with 98 yards on 15 carries.

Wootton had one last chance to score when it drove 43 yards in six plays but Pearce missed a 27-yard kick, wide to the left.

Gaithersburg then took over with 1:27 remaining but four incomplete passes later, the ball went over to Wootton on downs.

Patriots Coach Bob Hampton said this was his team's biggest hurdle of the early season. "I've reserved this until after we beat Gaithersburg," he said. "But now I feel, if we stay healthy, we have a legitimate title shot."