The Super 44 high school football game between Maryland and Virginia all-stars before 5,000 at W.T. Woodson High last night was just getting good when the players began to walk off the field and the fans began to leave.
Virginia was awarded the victory after the game was called because of lightning with 5 minutes 43 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Virginia held a 21-16 lead at the time, and Maryland had the ball on a first and 10 on its 37-yard line.
Virginia High School League rules mandate that a cooling-off period must be observed if lightning is sighted. If there is still lightning in the area after 30 minutes, the officials must decide whether to wait longer, replay the game or end the game and award the victory to the team in the lead. After the 30-minute wait, organizers deemed Virginia the winner.
Not everyone was so certain.
"We definitely would have come back," said Maryland Super 44 and Largo quarterback Ikey Chuku. "We were just starting to play well and our offense and defense were both picking it up. I am disappointed that we could not have the chance to finish the game."
Said Virginia Coach Joe Muskett: "We cannot say who won. We will never know and that bothers you as a coach."
Maryland entered the fourth quarter trailing 21-7. But Chuku scored on a one-yard run with 9:21 left to cut the deficit to 21-14. On Virginia's next possession, quarterback Bryson Spinner was sacked by Eleanor Roosevelt linebackers Jeremiah Watts and Donte Lewis at the Virginia 2-yard line on a third-down passing attempt.
Maryland then got a safety when Virginia snapped the ball over the head of punter Joey Hildbold and out of the end zone. But any chance of a comeback ended four plays later when referees spotted lightning.
Virginia took a 21-7 lead with 11:00 left in the third quarter on a 73-yard touchdown pass from Episcopal wide receiver Carl Morris to Episcopal All-Met Spinner. Spinner pitched the ball to Morris behind the line of scrimmage and then went about 30 yards downfield, caught Morris's pass and eluded two Maryland defenders before diving into the end zone.
"We had been talking about using that play all week in practice," Morris said. "We used it once against Landon [in the regular season] and we scored a touchdown that time as well."
Spinner completed 3 of 8 passes for 53 yards and one touchdown, rushed for 25 yards and caught the 73-yard touchdown pass. He was named the game's most valuable player.
"Bryson has all the tools," Virginia Super 44 Coach Joe Muskett said. "He is intelligent, makes the right decisions and is a tremendous competitor."
Actually, the game was very competitive considering it was an all-star game and most of the players will be leaving to attend college in the next few weeks.
Maryland was called for five unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and Virginia was called for two. There were two near fights and a lot of fierce blocking.
"I could tell when I saw Maryland at the walk-through on Friday that this was going to be a competitive game," Morris said. "They had really intense looks on their faces. There was a lot of hitting and trash-talking going on."
But the ending--or lack thereof--disappointed several players and fans.
"I was satisfied but not completely satisfied [about the game]," said Super 44 organizer Bob Geoghan. "It is like going to a movie and not seeing the end."
SUPER 44 BOX SCORE
Maryland 7 0 0 9 16
Virginia 7 7 7 0 21
V -- Stancil 3 run (Hildbold kick)
M -- Del Villar 69 pass from Chuku (Berkey kick)
V -- Morris 29 pass from Spinner (Hildbold kick)
V -- Spinner 73 pass from Morris (Hildbold kick)
M -- Chuku 1 run (Berkey kick)
M -- Safety, ball snapped out of end zone
RUSHING -- M: Chuku 8-47, Bennett 4-0, Davis 3-4, Dotson 1-6, Burrough 1-6, Crowell 2-(-14); V: Adams 7-29, Spinner 9-25, Johnson 6-23, Philmore 2-0, Stancil 1-3, Fleck 1-1, White 1-(-3).
PASSING -- M: Chuku 4-8-94, Crowell 3-10-9, Burrough 1-2-8; V: Spinner 3-10-53, Fleck 2-5-10, Morris 1-1-73.
RECEIVING -- M: Del Villar 2-72, Hill 4-25, Monroe 1-15, Dotson 1-5; V: Spinner 1-73, Morris 3-55, Stancil 1-7, White 1-4.