As he trudged back toward the school to change out of his uniform, Stefan Houston acknowledged that, yes, this was the most tired he had been after a Clarksburg game this season.

The Maryland recruit shined on defense, returning an interception for a touchdown, and on offense, scoring twice more including the game-winner in the final minutes, but it was the outpouring of emotion that left Houston exhausted after he led Clarksburg to a stunning 26-21 victory over Gaithersburg in a meeting of Montgomery County playoff hopefuls on Thursday night.

“This was one of the first games I really pushed my team,” Houston said. “Especially at halftime when we were trailing.”

Clarksburg (4-2) trailed, 14-6, at halftime and 21-20 in the fourth quarter after a 30-yard touchdown pass from Gaithersburg quarterback Lincon Reyes to standout wide receiver Billy Brown with less than nine minutes left.

Even after Gaithersburg (4-2) failed to convert after an interception deep in Clarksburg territory, the Trojans seemed in good shape after Will Tearney’s interception with 2 minutes 26 seconds left. Clarksburg was out of timeouts.

But on the following play, safety Gary Rich forced a fumble that Barry Solomon recovered.

Then it was time for Houston. He caught a 24-yard pass from Mike Sheehan, moving the ball to the 3. On the next play, Houston took a shotgun snap and ran up the middle for a three-yard touchdown.

He had scored on a 12-yard run earlier in the fourth quarter and returned his first interception of the season 22 yards for a score in the first quarter.

“Stefan has made those plays all year,” Clarksburg Coach Larry Hurd said. “He’s made them every game. In my mind, he’s up there with anyone in the area. He showed it on the field. Every time we needed a play, he made the play.”

Houston finished with 19 carries for 102 yards and caught four passes for 89 yards.

Still, Gaithersburg had one final chance, moving to the Clarksburg 18 with seven seconds left. But Derrell Howard’s interception in the end zone sealed the victory as time expired.

“It’s about time the sun shined in Clarksburg,” Hurd said. “We’ve lost enough when that has happened to us.”