Maurece Clark clutched the game ball in his hands after Mount Vernon's thrilling 22-21 overtime victory over host Edison last night, daring anyone to try to take the ball away from him.
Clark worked too hard to end up with the ball at game's end to give it up. The senior wide receiver caught a 15-yard pass from senior quarterback Kelvin Coggins for a two-point conversion to give the Majors a one-point victory and possibly eliminate Edison from playoff contention. Clark had to pull the ball away from Edison defensive back Andre Haywood to make the reception.
"I have confidence in Kelvin that he can get me the ball," Clark said. "I just had to take it away from [Haywood]. I had to fight for it."
Edison needed a victory to guarantee a spot in the Group AAA Northern Region Division 5 playoffs for the first time since 1990. Edison still can qualify for the playoffs if Langley and West Potomac lost last night.
"We were about six inches away from it," Edison Coach Vaughn Lewis said. "But they made the play, and they won and we lost."
Both teams were faced with unfamiliar situations. Edison (6-4, 4-2) was fighting for a playoff berth; the Eagles won only five games combined in 1997 and 1998, and hadn't been in a position to even consider the playoffs since 1990. Mount Vernon (3-7, 3-3), the three-time defending National District champion, was trying to end a rebuilding season on a positive note.
Mount Vernon built a 14-6 lead early in the fourth quarter when sophomore Thomas Clayton (19 carries for 162 yards) scored on a four-yard run.
Edison tied the game at 14 with 2 minutes 33 seconds left when junior Cedric Bryant (41 carries for 253 yards) capped a bizarre 73-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion run. The Eagles were penalized three times on the drive, wiping out a touchdown by Bryant, and turning a first-and-goal situation from the 4-yard line into a third and goal from the 22.
Edison was able to keep the drive alive when Mount Vernon was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty, moving the ball to the 12 and getting a first down. Three plays later, Bryant scored.
In overtime, the Eagles scored first on a quarterback sneak by junior Will Heislup. NyJuan Hall's extra point gave Edison a 21-14 edge. Mount Vernon countered with a nine-yard touchdown run by Clayton.
Majors Coach Marty Riddle decided to go for the two-point conversion. Clayton scored, but his run was nullified because of a holding penalty. Riddle again decided to go for the two-point conversion, even though his team was backed up on the 15-yard line.
"We've had tremendous problems all year with our field goal and extra points," Riddle said. "We went for the kick twice tonight, and saw what happened [a busted extra-point turned into a two-point conversion when Coggins hit Robert Wiggins with a pass, and another extra-point attempt was wide left]. We wanted to put the ball in Kelvin's hands and let him roll out."