With its offense and star running back Raphael Wall slowed to a crawl by Douglass, Wilde Lake rose to the occasion with a strong defensive effort that provided the foundation for a 14-12 victory in a Maryland Class 2A semifinal yesterday in Columbia.
Wilde Lake (12-0) will face Damascus (11-1) in the final at South Carroll Friday at 7:30.
Damascus eliminated Wilde Lake, 20-12, in the Class 2A semifinals last season.
"It seemed like our offense couldn't get going," said Wilde Lake defensive back Ricky Rowe. "They have a real good defense and a real good offense. Everything was just so balanced. So the defense just had to come out there and take charge."
Trailing, 14-6, and aided by two personal foul calls against Wilde Lake and a crucial 16-yard fourth down run by Dave Fant, Douglass scored on quarterback Errick Douglas's one-yard sneak with 27 seconds remaining to close to 14-12.
However, a controversial personal foul call against Douglass afer the touchdown forced the Eagles to attempt the conversion from the 18-yard line instead of the normal spot at the 3.
The official has "got to live with that call," said Coach John Latzo of Douglass (10-2), which was making its first state playoff appearance in 15 years.
On the two-point try, Fant was pulled down by linebacker Brent Guyton on a sweep.
The Eagles limited Wall, one of the area's leading rushers, to 24 yards on 15 carries, with six of his attempts ending in negative yardage.
But the Eagles were snakebitten by three second-half fumbles and a bobbled punt.
Trailing by 7-6, Douglas failed to handle a low snap on a punt attempt and was tackled at the Douglass 24.
On second down, White faked to Wall, then kept the ball and got down to the Douglass 11. Keith Gonsouland made a determined run to move the ball to the 2, and two plays later Wall went over the top for the touchdown. David Lubitz converted the extra point to put the Wildecats up, 14-6, with 5:28 left.
"This was our toughest battle of the year, right here, and we'll probably see another one next week," said Wildecat Coach Doug Duvall. "So actually, its going to be a blessing for us because we got to see a real football team and that truthfully was the first real tough one we've had to play."
Charles Tucker got Douglass on the scoreboard with a two-yard touchdown with 6:01 left in the first quarter. But quarterback Phil White capped a 37-yard drive with a four-yard keeper with 2:16 remaining in the first half. Lubitz's kick then gave Wilde Lake a 7-6 lead.