Lackey Coach Scott Chadwick was torn when junior Bryan Gibbons nudged him along the sideline in the fourth quarter of the Chargers' Maryland 3A South Region semifinal against McDonough. With the fifth-ranked Chargers' offense struggling in a tie game, Gibbons told Chadwick to throw him the ball.
So, on first down from the McDonough 19-yard line with 58 seconds to play, the 6-foot, 185-pound fullback-linebacker persuaded Chadwick to have quarterback Aaron Smith run a play-action fake. Gibbons streaked to the right corner of the end zone, and Smith found him on a perfect timing pass for the game's lone touchdown, which gave Lackey a 10-3 victory.
"I told him, 'Give me one shot. That's all I need,' " said Gibbons, who had caught two short passes earlier. "I told [Smith] to throw it up there and I'll catch it."
This play wasn't in Lackey's playbook. Gibbons loves to needle Chadwick about trying different plays. And although many of Gibbons's ideas intrigue Chadwick, just as many don't.
"Bryan always wants to be a coach," Chadwick said. "Sometimes he sets up something good, sometimes he doesn't. That was a good one."
It was worth a shot, given the struggles of Lackey's offense, which was without All-Met running back Morgan Green for all but two plays in the fourth quarter (two carries, minus-2 yards). This was the fifth time this season that Green has missed at least half of a game because of a right hamstring injury.
Only three of the Chargers' 43 carries went more than six yards and their passing game was inconsistent against a McDonough (8-3) team that lost to the Chargers (11-0) a month ago, 51-13.
With less than two minutes to play in last night's 3A West semifinal against No. 15 Urbana in Germantown, 14th-ranked Northwest was clinging to a four-point lead and facing a fourth-and-inches from the Urbana 42-yard line.
The Jaguars decided to go for it, and quarterback Ike Whitaker snuck behind senior center Johnny Ventura for the first down. Two plays later, Whitaker (15 carries, 70 yards) boot-legged 27 yards for a touchdown that sealed the Jaguars' 26-16 victory.
"It was just me and the line," Ventura said of the fourth-and-inches call. "We had to get it."
With the victory -- just the second playoff triumph for Northwest (10-1) since the school opened in 1998 -- the Jaguars advanced to next week's 3A West championship at Frederick (10-1).
Before last night, Northwest was 0-3 against Frederick County teams in the postseason, losing to Linganore in the playoffs the last two seasons. Urbana (9-2), which won four state titles from 1998 to 2001, lost a playoff game for just the second time.
Gray Leads Douglass
Junior quarterback Davon Gray rushed for a game-high 132 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries to lead Douglass to a 36-26 victory over River Hill in a 3A East Region game last night in Clarksville.
Gray scored on runs of 36, 5 and 50 yards as the fourth-seeded Eagles (9-2) denied the previously undefeated Hawks (10-1) their first postseason win in school history. Gray threw just one pass -- it was incomplete -- but orchestrated an option offense that rushed for 425 yards and five touchdowns on 41 carries.
"Our plan coming in here was to run right at them and that's what we did," Gray said. "We just had too much speed and too many weapons offensively. They could not key on one guy because all of our running backs are good."
Old Mill Gets Defensive
Old Mill football players said running back Ryan Callahan had carried them all season. So yesterday, they decided to return the favor.
Despite three costly fumbles and a season-low 106 rushing yards from Callahan, Old Mill beat visiting Arundel, 29-16, in a 4A East semifinal. The Patriots defense forced six turnovers and held Arundel scoreless in the second half, helping Old Mill Coach Mike Marcus win his first playoff game in eight tries.
"It feels like I just went on the Jenny Craig diet and lost 300 pounds," Marcus said. "It's a huge weight off my shoulders, and a huge confidence builder for this team."
The Patriots are constructed around Callahan, who has more than 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. Despite running for two touchdowns, Callahan, a junior, averaged less then five yards a carry for the first time in his high school career.
Rams Win Without Coach
Playing without its coach, who was absent from the stadium while serving a one-game suspension, No. 12 Suitland dominated visiting Oxon Hill in a 4A South semifinal, using a trick play and a stingy defense to shut out the Clippers, 19-0.
Suitland Coach Nick Lynch was suspended one playoff game this season for pulling his team off the field in the fourth quarter of last season's first-round playoff loss to Eleanor Roosevelt. That left assistant Terrell Williams to call the shots, and he simply tried to carry out Lynch's game plan.
"The coaching staff got together," Williams said, "and made sure that if I didn't think of something that he [Lynch] would have, someone would speak up."
What Suitland's coaches came up with was a fake punt that sealed the game in the fourth quarter. The Rams (10-1) faced a fourth down on their 15-yard line, but instead of punting, Suitland snapped the ball to up-back Michael Howard, who sprinted 85 yards for the game's final touchdown. Suitland's defense held Oxon Hill (5-6) to 59 total yards.
Staff writers Jon Gallo and Eli Saslow and special correspondent Dave Yanovitz contributed to this report.