A.J. Wallace and Robert McClain played a little one-on-one last night in Pomfret.
Never mind the 20 other players on the football field. Host McDonough defeated Patuxent, 51-33, because its star running back, Wallace, had more chances to show off his skills than Patuxent's relatively unheralded standout.
Wallace, one of the nation's top recruits, is headed for an official visit to Nebraska today. He will leave on a high note -- rushing for 347 yards and four second-half touchdowns to lead the Rams (6-2, 6-2 SMAC) in a matchup of two teams battling for playoff position in the Maryland 2A South Region. Patuxent fell to 4-4, 4-4.
"We knew that if we got this win and win out, we've got a nice spot in the playoffs," said Wallace, who surpassed the 260-yard rushing mark for the third time in four games. "But when [McLain] scored, I knew I had to pull my team together and get a score for myself."
McClain scored Patuxent's first four touchdowns -- two receiving, one rushing, and the other on a kickoff return (his fifth for a score this season) -- and racked up 308 all-purpose yards, the fifth consecutive game he has totaled more than 300.
And at the end of the game, McClain turned to his coach, Steve Crounse, and, of all things, apologized.
"I was trying anything I could do to stop A.J.," McClain said.
"It got me fired up," McClain said about playing against Wallace. "I wanted to show any other colleges that might have been here that I'm just as good as him."
Unlike the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Wallace, though, McClain does not have nationwide recruiting appeal. Since he is in his first season as a starting running back, the 5-10, 190-pound McClain has just two scholarship offers -- from Kent and Towson.
As McDonough Coach Dave Bradshaw shook hands with Crounse, he told his counterpart, " 'Steve, I'm going to sell him to everyone I know because he is a great player.' "
After McDonough went up 20-7 with five minutes to play in the first half, McClain returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards to make it 20-14. Two plays later, Wallace broke free down the right sideline on a counter for an apparent touchdown. Only McClain could track him down at the Patuxent 25 for a 52-yard gain.
In the second half, Wallace's four-yard touchdown run with 3 minutes 34 seconds left in the third quarter put McDonough ahead for good 30-27. As other players seemed to tire, Wallace kept churning, scoring on a 13-yard run with just over nine minutes to play, making it a 10-point game. Then came a 45-yard scoring run, and finally, a 20-yard jaunt to close out the scoring.