Damascus 26,

Quince Orchard 20

The main parking lot at Quince Orchard High School was packed an hour and a half before kickoff last night, and the standing-room-only crowd got all it could want in a football game. The show was capped by Travis Wertz's 30-yard touchdown catch with 47 seconds remaining, lifting No. 6 Damascus to a 26-20 victory over the No. 20 Cougars.

Wertz had dropped a pass at the goal line on the previous play, but the senior bounced back to haul in a pass from Jason Sprankle at the 4-yard line and barrel through a Quince Orchard defender for the winning score.

A week after Damascus (5-1) suffered its first loss of the season, the Swarmin' Hornets handed the Cougars (5-1) their first defeat.

Wertz finished with eight catches for 209 yards and three touchdowns, but none of his receptions were bigger -- or more difficult -- than the last one, on which the ball floated just beyond the outstretched arm of Quince Orchard defensive back Jewison Hurtault.

"After I dropped the ball . . . coach told me not to worry, that I'd get another shot," Wertz said.

In fact, Wertz got a lot of shots. After the Hornets' first two drives stalled, and down 7-0, Damascus Coach Dan Makosy called for some trickery. On fourth and three on the Quince Orchard 30, Sprankle pitched the ball to wide receiver Austin Bernardo, who took two steps, stopped and heaved the ball to Wertz in the end zone for Damascus's first score.

After forcing a Cougars punt, Damascus put the ball in the hands of running back Matt Reidy and Mo Afifi, but the Quince Orchard defense stood strong. On fourth and one, Sprankle scrambled for two yards to keep the drive alive. On the next play, Sprankle pitched the ball to Reidy, who threw the ball downfield to Wertz for a 59-yard touchdown, putting the Hornets up 14-7, a lead they held at halftime.

At the start of the second half, Quince Orchard's Darrell Bibb scooped up a squib kick inside the 15-yard line, made a Hornets player miss and raced to the Damascus 5-yard line. On the next play, Cameron George (12 carries, 131 yards, 2 touchdowns) scored to pull the Cougars even. Each team scored again, but missed extra points left the score tied at 20.

With less than four minutes to play, Damascus started what would be the game-winning drive at the Quince Orchard 46. Four consecutive runs by Reidy (31 carries, 121 yards) brought the ball to the Cougars 30-yard line and set up Wertz's heroics.

"We knew it would be a tough game," Reidy said. "We knew they wouldn't go away . . . but our goal is to be the best 4A team in the state."