Dennis Worek doesn’t necessarily believe in the football gods but with the final 90 seconds ticking away and his McLean team down five points in Friday’s game at South Lakes, the second-year coach figured it was time for some good fortune to come their way.
Two of the Highlanders’ first three games ended in losses decided by a last-second field goal and a squandered 18-point lead. Friday’s contest appeared headed in that same direction of defeat until a fumble recovery and a frantic final play gave McLean a dramatic 13-12 win in what Worek jokingly called “The Miracle at Reston.”
The improbable final sequence began with South Lakes working to gain one final first down to secure what would have been its third straight victory. But the ball was jarred loose on a rushing attempt and McLean’s Gabe Sutherland recovered it near midfield.
The Highlanders (2-2, 2-0 in Liberty District) quickly drove down to the 6-yard line and used their final timeout, only to be pushed back five yards following an illegal motion penalty on the next play. On fourth-and-10 with about 10 seconds left, Danny Hecht threw completed a pass to Sutherland who caught it near the goal line, sending the McLean coaches and players into a frenzy as they celebrated what they thought was a touchdown.
“I was rushing over to congratulate Gabe, and then I saw the refs spot the ball at the 1, so we all kind of went into panic mode,” Hecht said.
Instructions soon came from everywhere. Worek screamed for Hecht to spike the ball so he could call one more play, while Sutherland and McLean center Ben Lafoon yelled for Hecht to set up a quarterback sneak. The teammates’ voices prevailed, as Hecht quickly lined everyone up and began his surge forward.
“I think he screamed out the play as he was at the line,” Worek said with a laugh.
“I could see the clock ticking down from four seconds and it was almost like slow motion,” Hecht said. “We’re taught to get low and hit the A gap, but as I kept pushing – and I think I had some help from behind from [running back Manuel Enriquez Hesles] — I slid down to the B gap and finally got through.”
When Hecht fell into the end zone, the McLean celebration that had begun a few moments earlier recommenced for a victory that breathed new life into their season.
“I feel like our team would be really discouraged if we had lost this game, so this was a pivotal win for us,” said Hecht, who threw for 146 yards in the game. “Now we have the confidence going forward and, as one teammate said, the train is starting to roll.”