WESTMINSTER, MD., DEC. 1 -- Wootton never lost its pluck but finally ran out of luck in a 21-12 loss to Randallstown in the Maryland Class 4A championship game before more than 4,500 fans today at Westminster High School.
The Patriots (12-1) fell short of the school's first state championship because they, like everyone else, could not stop Larry Washington.
Washington continued his playoff streak by carrying 25 times for 254 yards and all three Randallstown touchdowns.
"The key thing is they just kept giving him the ball, and whenever you have a good running back like that he's going to break a big one or two," Wootton Coach Bob Hampton said. "I think he's the best back that I've seen on the football field in the 20 years that I've been coaching."
The Rams' success came completely on the ground. The Baltimore County school attempted just two passes while running the ball 45 times for 314 yards.
The turnovers that have helped the Patriots win this season went against them. They took the ball to the Randallstown 4-yard line on the opening drive before quarterback Mike Mehok's pitch to Shawn Thomas went awry. The ball deflected off Thomas's shoulder and was recovered by the Rams' Rodney Smith.
Randallstown moved the ball to its 34 before the Patriots stopped them. However, Todd DeHart fumbled while trying to make a fair catch of a punt, and the Rams recovered at midfield.
That turnover proved costly when Randallstown drove to Washington's one-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.
The Patriots bounced back and mounted a 15-play, 61-yard scoring drive. With Thomas (21 carries, 119 yards) and Kyle Horlacher (12 carries, 70 yards) pounding the ball inside and a key 16-yard completion from Mehok to Ed Reilly, Wootton found itself with fourth and goal at the 1. Thomas took the handoff over the top of the pile and just managed to cross the goal line. The extra point, however, missed left and the Patriots trailed, 7-6.
That score remained until the third quarter, when Washington took over. On the first play of the second half, he ran inside and was apparently stopped by two defenders after a 10-yard gain. But he broke free and sprinted the rest of the distance to the end zone for a 53-yard touchdown.
Wootton stuck to its game plan, running the ball, and fought back in the fourth quarter. Thomas broke a 17-yard gain and Horlacher an 18-yarder to put the Patriots at the Randallstown 33. Thomas ran the rest of the way on a draw for the touchdown with just more than 10 minutes left.
The Rams stopped Thomas on the two-point conversion attempt and the score stood 14-12, Randallstown.
"Wootton was a smarter team than others that we played because they ran the ball at us," Randallstown Coach John Buchheister said. "Good teams, if they really run the ball at us, are going to give us a fit."
The Rams put the game away on the ensuing drive when Washington scored again from seven yards. Washington set up the drive by returning the kickoff to midfield. On second and goal from the 7, he ran up the middle and, carrying two defenders on his back, fell over the goal line for the touchdown with 4:20 left.
"I believe like George Allen believes -- that whenever you lose, a little bit of you dies," Hampton said. "But you have to pick it back up. Unfortunately, it's the last game of the season and that's what you live with."