Lackey senior J.B. Walton expects to play plenty more football in his life. It is unlikely, though, that he will experience an ending like the one in the Chargers' 21-19 victory last night at Friendly in a Maryland 3A South semifinal.
"I couldn't believe it," Walton said. "I still don't believe it."
The game appeared to end when Friendly's Joe Haden completed a pass to Vincent Hill at the Lackey 1-yard line, and the Patriots could not line up in time to get another snap off before time expired. Officials signaled the game was over.
But that pass gave Friendly a first down, which should have stopped the clock, and allowed officials to set the ball. After about 10 minutes of discussion, officials decided to award Friendly one last play from inside the 1.
Haden took the snap and pushed forward. But Lackey defensive tackle Bryan Yates hit Haden low, while linebacker Clyde Jones and end Courtney Jackson came in up top. Haden's body seemed to cross the goal line, but Jackson appeared to strip the ball from him. No score, and the game was ruled over.
"I felt around at the bottom of the pile and just grabbed it," Jackson said, referring to the ball.
Friendly's bench reacted angrily, demanding an explanation of the call. The officiating crew, however, was escorted hurriedly off the field by police, and unavailable to comment.
"When you cross the end zone, that should be it," Friendly Coach George Earley said. "I don't know how you could do that."
Friendly assistant coach Marcus Berry said, according to his team's video, both Hill's first-down catch and Haden's sneak were touchdowns. Berry said the Friendly staff plans to file a formal complaint to the Maryland Publc Secondary Schools Athletic Association. "We have proof," Berry said. "We want to sit there with them and watch it."
Both teams took issue with the clock in the fourth quarter, saying there were times it didn't start when it should have, and ran when it shouldn't have.
After Friendly went ahead 13-7 on a Haden run, the Patriots missed the extra point, allowing Lackey to take its first lead on the following possession. Mike Johnson's three-yard run, and the subsequent extra point with 2 minutes 56 seconds left gave Lackey a one-point lead.
Friendly fumbled on its next play from scrimmage, and Lackey went up 21-13 on a 6-yard scoring pass from Aaron Smith to Josh Briscoe with 1:45 left. But Friendly's Lamaar Thomas returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to pull to 21-19. Lackey stopped the Patriots on their two-point conversion attempt, but Friendly recovered the ensuing onside kick, setting the stage for the late drama.