His head hurt from all of the slaps on the helmet and the line of people waiting to give him a hug seemed endless. And Chris McPherson , once seemingly destined to be the goat if third-ranked Quince Orchard had lost, would not trade the feeling for the world.

After missing a point-after-touchdown kick late in the third quarter and then seeing his team fall behind by one point, McPherson got a chance to redeem himself and the senior place kicker did not miss. His 24-yard field goal with seven seconds left lifted the host Cougars to a 23-21 victory over 15th-ranked Churchill in the Maryland 4A West Region final on Friday night.

“It’s never been like that before, I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” McPherson said. “It was incredible. I didn’t really know what to think. I kind of stood there and got attacked.”

Quince Orchard (12-0) advanced to next week’s Maryland 4A semifinals against the winner of Saturday’s game between ninth-ranked Suitland and 16th-ranked C.H. Flowers .

For a while, it appeared Churchill (10-2) would be the team advancing. Quarterback Lansana Keitathrew one touchdown pass and ran for two more, including a one-yard keeper on fourth and goal that gave the Bulldogs a 21-20 lead with 91 / 2 minutes left.

Quince Orchard, which lost three fumbles and repeatedly failed to finish drives or take advantage of good field position, lost a fumble and failed to get a first down on its next two possessions. The Cougars looked to be in trouble, facing third and 10 from their own 45-yard line with two minutes left.

But running back Mark Green (168 yards, two touchdowns) rattled off three consecutive runs for first downs to move the ball inside the Churchill 10. That set up McPherson, who missed last season because of a broken collarbone and said he had been hoping his teammates would get a touchdown but was prepared for a chance to win the game. Following a timeout, the snap was low, but holder Sean Greenspan got the ball down and McPherson’s kick was true.

“We try to practice those situations but how the hell are you going to practice a situation like that?” Quince Orchard Coach Dave Mencarini said. “I had never been in a situation like that before [in eight seasons], where we’re lining up to kick a winning field goal. Ever. We’ve had a lot of big wins around here and this ranks up among the best, if not the best.”