Poolesville 9, W.E.B. DuBois 6

As Poolesville assembled to begin its warmup last night before its 9-6 victory over W.E.B. DuBois of Baltimore City, Falcons Coach Larry Hurd ordered a round of "hit-its."

On Hurd's command, his players would dive on the ground and then scramble back to their feet. They got wet, muddy and acclimated to the messy conditions for their Maryland 1A South Region semifinal played on a miserably cold and rainy night in Poolesville.

"We never do that," Hurd said of the pregame hit-its. "I wanted to get them wet, and it's something where I knew this would be an unbelievable test. When you get conditions like this, you're going to get a game that's very tight, and I wanted my kids to get wet and get used to it right away."

How the Falcons dealt with the sloppy playing field and the slippery ball was the key to their victory. Poolesville completed no passes and accumulated just 139 yards to the Panthers 236. But Poolesville fumbled the ball just three times, losing one, while W.E.B. DuBois lost five of 12 fumbles. Poolesville also got four solid punts from senior Cory Christman, all of which were between 31 and 38 yards, while the Panthers botched two punt snaps, one of which led to the Falcons' lone touchdown.

"That was the key," Hurd said. "In this game, it was field position."

The victory was the Falcons' 22nd in 23 games under Hurd over the past two seasons, and with it, they advanced to the 1A South Final, where they will face the winner of today's game between top-seeded Dunbar (9-1) and Forest Park, Md. (5-5). Dunbar defeated Poolesville in last year's regional final, 30-22.

Last night's game, scheduled to start at 7, was delayed by 45 minutes because W.E.B. DuBois (7-3) arrived late, and there was a break of more than 20 minutes with 4 minutes 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter after Panthers junior Antoine Price suffered a serious leg injury.

But the Falcons, who retreated to their locker room during the delay, returned to the field focused and put the game away.

Poolesville scored first late in the first quarter by taking advantage of the first bobbled punt snap by W.E.B. DuBois. The miscue gave the Falcons the ball at the Panthers 9-yard line, and they scored in three plays.

Senior running back Greg Brooks (17 carries, 80 yards) negotiated the final five yards on a sweep left, and senior Chris Kramek added the extra point for a 7-0 advantage.

W.E.B. DuBois responded on its ensuing possession, going 65 yards in nine plays, the last a six-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Devon Claibourne. But the extra point sailed wide.

Poolesville led 7-6 until midway through the fourth quarter, when Claibourne was forced out of the end zone by Poolesville senior Matt Fields for a safety and a 9-6 lead.