Clarification -- Wilde Lake's first touchdown in 13-7 victory over Damascus Friday night was a 15-yard run by Damon Hamilin. (Published 12/2/90)
Wilde Lake Coach Doug DuVall firmly believes that championship games should be classic tests of both teams' mettle and not blowouts.
DuVall saw just that last night as Raphael Wall scored from three yards in overtime to give No. 8 Wilde Lake a 13-7 win over No. 14 Damascus in the Maryland Class 2A state championship at South Carroll.
"That's how the state championship should be won -- in overtime," said DuVall, whose team finished 13-0 and captured the school's second state football championship.
"Damascus is a great football team and it was a great game," said DuVall. "Anybody who paid their four dollars to see this game certainly got their money's worth."
Indeed they did. The Wildecats won by using their two key components -- a bullish running game and a timely big-play defense.
It was the defense's turn first as Damascus received the ball first in the overtime in which each team is given four downs to attempt to score from the 10-yard line.
Damascus quarterback Matt Byrne and running back Scott Braham had a bad exchange on a handoff. The situation was made worse for Damascus (11-2) after Braham was quickly stopped by Wilde Lake defensive lineman Len Cotter. The fumble was recovered by Wildecat Ben Casella.
"Wilde Lake has never won in overtime," said Wildecats senior defensive end Denny Treger. "We went out there and knew what we had to do. We knew our defense was too tough and we caused a fumble. Turnovers have been our thing all year."
Now enter the running game.
Wilde Lake junior running back Damon Hamlin gained the most determined seven yards of the game as he dragged Damascus defenders to the 3 on Wilde Lake's overtime possession. On the next play, Wall, who finished with 96 on 20 carries, took the pitch and knifed into the end zone for the title-clinching score.
The victory was especially satisfying to the Wildecats, who last season lost to Damascus in the state semifinals.
For Damascus, it was the second straight year that the season ended with a loss in the state championship game.
Wilde Lake, leading 7-0 at the half, looked in good position to extend the lead after Casella intercepted a fourth-down Byrne pass and returned it to the Damascus 34 on the Hornets' opening series in the second half.
But the Hornets defense would not yield and Joel Smith intercepted a fourth-down pass at the Hornets 11.
Smith's interception set up a deliberate, relentless game-tying trek down field fueled by the tough inside running of fullback Bucky Clipper.
Clipper carried six times during the 12-play Damascus drive with key runs of one and two yards on third-down plays. Damascus also got a 26-yard run from junior Antwoine McLaurin to the Wildecats 46.
The Hornets scored from the 3, when Byrne faked the ball to Clipper into the line. Clipper was swarmed by the Wildecats as Byrne bootlegged around left end and dove into the corner of the end zone with 7:44 remaining.
Kicker Dan Whitehead converted the extra point to tie the game at 7.
Wilde Lake took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter after taking possession at its 47 after a Hornets punt. Quarterback Phil White found Hamlin on a quick slant in the seam for a 20-yard gain on third and 10.
Fullback Casella finished the drive by taking a misdirection hand off and following excellent downfield blocking by tight end Denny Treger and Wall. He then barreled through two defenders into the end zone with 4:08 left in the half for a 15-yard touchdown.
Byrne completed six of seven passes for the game for 53 yards and one interception. Emery, who had averaged better than four catches per game, was limited to two receptions for 16 yards. Wilde Lake was able to control the pair by sacking Byrne four times.