Largo 20, Northwestern 17

Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

Largo quarterback Jomah Watson saw two linebackers ready to blitz up the middle and knew they were going to be waiting for standout Lions running back Charlie Rivers. The play Watson had called in the huddle was supposed to be a run for Rivers, but Watson knew it was time to improvise.

Watson faked a handoff to Rivers, turned and rolled to the right then dove into the end zone for a game-winning seven-yard touchdown in overtime, lifting Largo to a 20-17 victory over visiting Northwestern Friday night that put the Lions in position for their first playoff berth since 1995.

Rivers "was supposed to get the ball but I saw the backers coming so I checked off," Watson said. "I knew I was going to score once I turned the corner."

A joyous celebration left Watson needing to catch his breath after getting up from the bottom of a pile. First-year coach Ray Crawford, meantime, was doused with a bucket of ice water near midfield.

"It's a big win," said Watson, whose previous three carries last night totaled six yards.

If Eleanor Roosevelt beats Oxon Hill today, Largo (5-4, 4-4 Prince George's 4A) will be able to claim the fourth and final playoff berth in the Maryland 4A South Region by beating High Point next week. Northwestern fell to 4-4, 4-4.

It was a thrilling victory that seemed improbable at halftime, when Largo had yet to gain a first down and trailed 14-0. But the Lions, who earlier this month led eighth-ranked Suitland 14-0 at the half only to lose, rallied in the third quarter.

The Lions' first drive of the second half ended with a turnover. On their second possession, Rivers carried four consecutive plays and scored on a seven-yard run to make it 14-6. Rivers scored again on a one-yard run after a Northwestern punt bounced off the back of one of its players, giving Largo the ball at the Northwestern 1-yard line. Rivers's subsequent two-point conversion run to the right tied the game at 14 late in the third quarter.

"It wasn't pleasantries," Crawford said after chuckling when asked what he said to his players in the locker room at intermission. "We questioned some manhood and some heart. It's a speech that I'll bottle up forever. We came out the second half like Suitland came out on us."

In overtime, Northwestern faced fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line and opted for an 18-yard field goal by Jonathan Hernandez. Rivers, who entered the night as the Washington area's sixth-leading rusher and gained 101 yards on 27 carries, carried for three yards on first down for Largo, setting up Watson's decisive run.