BALTIMORE — Rob Chesson was held without a touchdown for the first time this season. But the Old Mill running back — who has enjoyed one of the Washington area’s most prolific seasons — managed to get in the end zone at just the right moment to lift his team to a state title.
After a late rally just to force overtime, the third-ranked Patriots made a daring decision to go for a two-point conversion. Following a timeout, Chesson took a toss to the left and leaped into the end zone while being tackled by two defenders for the game-winning points, lifting Old Mill to a 36-35 victory over second-ranked Quince Orchard in the Maryland 4A championship game on Friday night at M&T Bank Stadium.
“As soon as I got over the goal line, it hit me, ‘Yes! We just won!’ ” Chesson said. “It was a great feeling. The best feeling I’ve felt in my life. Breaking records and stuff, nothing felt like it did tonight.”
During the timeout, as the Patriots huddled on the sideline, McCormick and his assistants made the call to go for the victory. The coach looked at Chesson and told his star player that he would get the chance to win the game.
“Coach had faith in me,” said Chesson, who scored a state single-season record 49 touchdowns this season, with at least two touchdowns in 11 games. “When your coach has faith in you, that’s called trust. . . .
“The whole game, they shut me down. But when the team needed me most, that’s when I came through.”
Many Old Mill players, who had been kneeling behind their coach during the decisive play, sprinted to the other end of the field in celebration. Chesson quickly took off his helmet and started crying. Several Quince Orchard players lay face down on the field, seemingly in disbelief they had lost a game that was all but won.
“We had an opportunity to go for broke and we went for it,” McCormick said. “Rob Chesson has been diving in the end zone all year.”
It was a thrilling finish to a game that saw Old Mill (14-0) battling from behind the entire way.
The comeback evoked memories of other memorable Maryland 4A championship game comebacks. In 2006, Suitland came back from a 21-point deficit, tied the game on the final play of regulation and beat Sherwood, 39-38, in overtime. In 2007, Quince Orchard trailed Arundel by 16 points in the third quarter before rallying for a 36-30 victory that included a game-winning touchdown with 90 seconds left.
On Friday night, Quince Orchard (13-1) led, 21-0, late in the first half and 28-14 late in the third quarter as Mark Green rushed 42 times for 216 yards and three touchdowns.
Old Mill never led until overtime and seemed fortunate just to force the extra period. The Patriots trailed, 28-21, until Carl Chance’s 70-yard touchdown catch behind the defense with 42 seconds left. But the Old Mill sideline was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, according to McCormick.
Quince Orchard elected to have the penalty enforced on the point-after try, meaning sophomore Brady Hannon’s kick was from the 25-yard line. Hannon, who made just one field goal during the season, from 28 yards, made the 35-yard kick to tie the game at 28.
Old Mill even had a chance to win the game, as Torie Wagner intercepted a pass and returned it 33 yards, with Quince Orchard penalized another 15 yards for a personal foul. A pass from Deonte Shields to Wagner put the ball at the 13, but Hannon’s 30-yard field goal attempt just missed wide left with three seconds left in regulation.