DUMFRIES, VA., DEC. 8 -- For 13 games and one half today, no team had been able to run against top-ranked Potomac. But third-ranked West Potomac discovered the secret in the second half of the Virginia Class AAA Division 5 state championship football game and defeated the Panthers, 15-14, before a standing-room-only crowd of about 5,000 at Potomac.
The victory gave West Potomac (12-2) its second consecutive state championship. Last year the Wolverines won the Division 6 title before changing divisions. Potomac (13-1) was defeated in its second straight state final game, having lost to Woodrow Wilson in Division 5 last year.
West Potomac's main discovery today was 6-foot-1, 255-pound fullback Lamont Gooding. After carrying just once for two yards in the first half, Gooding shredded the Panthers defense for 80 yards and two touchdowns after intermission.
He scored the game-winning touchdown with 6:15 left in the fourth quarter. With West Potomac trailing by 14-9, he took a handoff up the middle, broke several tackles and went 32 yards for the score.
"I just ran up in the hole," he said, "and I saw my halfback get a good block. All I saw was me and the cornerback and I just tried to outrun him."
"We had a hard time stopping him," said Potomac Coach Bill Brown.
The Panthers got the ball twice more, but both drives ended in interceptions. After Gooding's touchdown, Gilbert Telleria threw a lateral on his own 24 to Wright, who pulled up to throw to wide-open Keith Honore. Wright had hooked up with Honore on the same play in the region semifinals to beat E.C. Glass with 22 seconds left, but this time his pass was wobbly and short and Richard Crosby picked it off.
In the final minutes Shane Wright picked up 37 yards on three carries to bring Potomac to midfield. But on third and 10, Telleria threw an off-balance pass that was intercepted by Jay Hutton.
West Potomac Coach Dan Meier decided to try to exploit the Panthers' secondary, which hasn't been tested much this year.
With quarterback Matt Browne, West Potomac came out throwing. Browne threw 14 passes in the first half, including the last 11 plays.
It almost backfired on the Wolverines. While they were patiently working on the Panthers' defense, Potomac's offense went to work.
Tommy Peterson took the opening kickoff and returned it 36 yards to the Wolverines 49. Then running back John Newsom had three runs of 13, 15 and 9 yards against a team that hadn't been scored upon in the playoffs. Two plays later Newsom took it to the 4 before C.J. Morgan was called for clipping. On third and goal from the 20, Telleria tossed a soft pass over the middle to Wright for the score with less than four minutes gone. After West Potomac place kicker Lars Oestevold barely made a 33-yard field goal, the Panthers put together a powerful 15-play, 63-yard drive. Newsom outraced everybody to the corner of the end zone on a four-yard sweep to give Potomac a 14-3 halftime lead.