Wootton Coach Bob Hampton said he dreamed of his team beating the top-ranked team in the area, but it's doubtful he dreamed of the six turnovers by Springbrook that would help the Patriots to a 20-7 victory yesterday that earned them a berth in the Maryland Class 4A championship football game.

The dream began turning to reality when Wootton's Marlon Evans returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a confidence-building touchdown. Then the Blue Devils proceeded to fumble seven times, losing six of them.

"You can dream," Hampton said. "We still have one more dream to go. We knew it was going to be a close game going in and we were fortunate that we took advantage of some of their mistakes. That's the way we've been all year."

"I'm still stunned," said Blue Devils fullback Leonard Green. "I've never seen us make so many mistakes. We didn't really deserve to win. I can't understand what the problem was. But they're a great team."

Wootton managed to accumulate the most points against Springbrook this season, although none of its scores came on a play from the line of scrimmage. Evans's kickoff return, a 35-yard return of a fumble and two field goals comprised the Patriots' total.

Wootton's defense, the heart of the team, limited the Blue Devils to their lowest point total this season, despite 333 total yards.

Wootton lost no time quieting the crowd at Springbrook. Evans took the ball at the 1-yard line and cut directly down the left sideline for the touchdown.

"We needed the momentum," Evans said. "We were a little unsure of ourselves, and then when we went up {7-0}, we knew we could play with these guys. We knew we were just as good."

Springbrook rebounded on the ensuing possession. Green (22 carries, 164 yards) broke big gains through the Wootton line to bring the Blue Devils to the Patriots 31.

There, Tony Sawyer rolled out and threw to Michael Gillespie wide open at the goal line. Gillespie bobbled, then dropped the ball in the end zone and the Patriots recovered.

Wootton dodged another bullet on Springbrook's next drive as Sawyer lost the ball while rolling right and Geoff Pearce recovered at the Wootton 30.

Springbrook tied the score on its next possession. Green ran in untouched from nine yards for the touchdown.

The Patriots' defense managed to come up with the big plays after that, keeping the Blue Devils off the scoreboard. Pearce recorded three sacks, all on third down, and his teammates came up with several fumble recoveries.

The score remained 7-7 until the opening drive of the second half. Sawyer ran right on the option and was blindsided by Alan Dinerman as he tried to pitch to Green. Messay Hailemariam was in perfect position to pick up the fumble and return it 35 yards for the touchdown and a 14-7 Wootton lead.

Dinerman recovered another fumble on Springbrook's next possession and returned it 38 yards to set up a 31-yard field goal by Pearce. That made it 17-7 with four minutes left in the third quarter.

One more fumble led to Wootton's final score. Jon Bernstein fell on Sawyer's bobble at the Blue Devils 44. The Patriots drove 38 yards in 13 plays before Pearce kicked a field goal from 23 with 1:34 left.