As teammates go, their roles couldn't be much more disparate: One is a third-year starting running back and a team captain headed to college as a lacrosse player, the other a skinny, 5-foot-8 wide receiver yet to snag a pass in his four-year career.
But in overtime of the final game of a successful regular season for Landon, senior running back Conor Cassidy and reserve wide receiver John Skolnick formed an unlikely tandem to carry the Bears to a 20-14 victory over host St. Albans. With the score tied, Cassidy took a handoff, sprinted right a few steps and winged the winning touchdown pass to Skolnick.
The victory gave Landon (8-2, 4-0 Interstate Athletic Conference) its second consecutive IAC crown. The Bears led for much of the afternoon, but St. Albans senior Michael Black's one-yard touchdown plunge tied the score at 14-14 with less then 30 seconds left and sent the game into overtime.
Already having scored both of his team's touchdowns, Cassidy (24 carries for 95 yards) blocked a field goal try by St. Albans (4-5, 2-2) on the opening possession, giving the Bears the ball on the 25-yard-line with an unlimited clock and needing any sort of score to win. By that point, however, starting quarterback George Huguely was on the sideline with cramps.
With his team huddled around him, Landon Coach Rob Bordley circled the halfback pass on a piece of paper as a possible third-down play.
"I thought he was crazy," said Cassidy, who hadn't attempted a pass all season.
Said Bordley: "I'm gonna roll the dice."
On third and 13 from the 15, backup quarterback Max Feely stuffed the ball in Cassidy's chest. Cassidy feigned a run play, drawing the defense, and Skolnick bolted for the corner in time to run under the pass and squeeze it tight, setting off a raucous Landon celebration.
"Once [the cornerback] bit up," Skolnick said, "I knew we were going to get it."
His coach wasn't as confident, but felt his team was too fatigued to get the ball into the end zone by running.
"I just didn't think we had the steam left. . . . Any other day, I may end up looking like an idiot," said Bordley, who had 30 seniors graduate after last season. "I'm as proud of this team as any team in 30 years."
Suitland Slips In
All-Met linebacker Navorro Bowman returned to the field yesterday, and after Suitland's 30-7 victory over visiting Bowie, the Rams found themselves in a familiar place: back in the playoffs.
Running back Monty Clayton broke two long touchdown runs in the first half and Bowman led a strong defensive effort as the Rams won their third consecutive game and squeaked into the final playoff slot in the Maryland 4A South Region.
Suitland's victory, combined with other results, narrowly put the defending state champion Rams (7-3) in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, just ahead of Bowie (7-3).
Suitland will play Saturday at No. 5 Douglass (10-0). It was in the teams' regular season meeting that Bowman first injured his right shoulder. He missed two games, played less than one half in a loss to Gwynn Park before re-injuring the shoulder and then missed four more games.
Bowman was uncertain whether he would play again for Suitland until this week, when he was finally cleared to play.
"I had to ask my mom," he said, acknowledging the injury will require surgery to repair. "She said she didn't want me to play. She said to be careful. My mom and dad came on the field before the game to make sure my [shoulder] harness was strapped on tight. It means a lot. This was my last time on this field."
With Bowman playing only on defense and special teams, it was up to Clayton to lead the offense. Clayton picked up a big block from wide receiver Mikeem Chavious to take a toss to the right 42 yards for the game's first score. After Bowman forced a fumble that Suitland recovered, Clayton scored two plays later, breaking a tackle near the line of scrimmage and scooting out of the pile for a 59-yard touchdown.
Stafford Coach Resigns
Roger Pierce has resigned as football coach at Stafford High after eight seasons, stepping down to take an assistant principal's position at Rodney Thompson Middle School in Stafford.
"It would be impossible to do both" jobs, Pierce said. "You'd be giving half an effort on two jobs."
Pierce, whose resignation was first reported in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, led the Indians to the program's only playoff victories in a run to the 2002 Virginia AAA Division 5 championship game.
Stafford completed a 4-6 season with a 35-16 loss to North Stafford on Friday.