Gaithersburg beats Sherwood, wins 4A West Region : #MOCOFB
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Gaithersburg beats Sherwood, wins 4A West Region

by MoCoFootball Staff on 11/19/10

Matthew Dewhurst for

OLNEY Md. -Back in August when Gaithersburg head coach Kreg Kephart was prepping his team for the 2010 season, one goal seemed to standout out from the others: Make Gaithersburg an elite football program once again.

After Friday's 4A West Region Final in Olney, the Trojans are officially back.

Led by quarterback Zach Fetters and receiver Sylvester Oni, Gaithersburg fought back for a dramatic 21-20 victory over rival Sherwood (10-2) on the road, landing them a place in the state's final four. Gaithersburg (11-1) will face either Urbana (11-0) or Broadneck (10-2) at John Harvill Stadium next Friday in the Maryland 4A state semifinal.

"It's a win that puts us back on the map of where we should be," said Kephart. "Gaithersburg was a football power for years and years... This is the first time we've been in the playoffs in four or five years and a whole lot of people disrespected us. This is a bit of redemption. The kids wanted it real bad and I wanted it."

But the game didn't start well for Gaithersburg. Sherwood came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, looking to put away the Trojans fast and furious. Senior quarterback A.J. Pignone marched his team down the field with no trouble for much of the first half, running the ball at will out of the shotgun. With just 1 minute remaining in the second quarter, Pignone hit Danny Hunt on the near sideline who then made a number a nifty moves to avoid defenders and eventually force himself into the end zone, giving the Warriors a solid 12-7 lead. Things got worse for the visiting Trojans on the ensuing kickoff when Sherwood's squib kick bounced off a Gaithersburg receiver and into the hands of the Warriors on the Gaithersburg 35-yard line. Three plays later, Pignone hit Jamal Merritt for a 25-yard touchdown in the back right corner of the end zone to give the Warriors a 20-13 lead with just 33 second left in the half.

But 33 seconds was all Gaithersburg seem to need.

After completing a 34 yard pass to Oni on the first play of the drive, Fetters went back to his 6'4" 215 lb target two plays later for a 22-yard TD strike, shocking the home crowd and sending Gaithersburg into the locker room, still down 20-13 but with all the momentum on their side.

"I surprised myself. I'm glad I have a quarterback that can throw the ball pretty good and a good team behind me," Oni said. "We pulled that out of our ass right there. We came out there and conquered."

That would not be the last you heard from Oni or Fetters. A bad Sherwood snap on a punt attempt with just over 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter gave Gaithersburg great field position and the ability to take the lead. On second a goal, fetters once again found Oni in the back corner of the endzone for his second touchdown grab of the night. Fetters completed a pass to Simba Gwashavamhu for the 2-point conversion and all of a sudden Gaithersburg was in the lead and in command 21-20.

"That's just the thing about having playmakers like that," Fetters said. "I have four excellent receivers. I have great confidence I can throw it up there and they'll come down with it."

The Warriors failed to get much going on their following drive and ended up punting way the ball with 8:17 second left in the game. Normally, that would seem like plenty of time to allow a pass-happy team like Gaithersburg to work with and still have an opportunity to get the ball back.

Not on this night.

Fetters and running back Khare Cross, walked the ball up the field with run after run after run. The Trojans offensive line constantly opened up holes for its backfield to move the ball slowly, but with authority. The 15-play drive - including a 2-yard quarterback keeper by Fetters on third and two with 1:41 remaining to essentially ice the game - went 88 yards and ended with the senior quarterback kneeling in the victory formation on the 5-yard line as time expired.

"The goal was trying to run the clock down, and to be honest with you," said Fetters. "I didn't imagine on driving [88-yards] and eating up every second on that clock. But when things started going and things started happening... I was hoping we could give them the ball with less time than when we got it and it was icing on the cake to do what we did."

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Gaithersburg 0 13 0 8 21
Sherwood 6 14 0 0 20

Week 12 Highlights in MoCo courtesy of CSNWashington

--photo by Ed Sheahin

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