Winning Ugly: Sherwood 17 Gaithersburg 14by MoCoFootball Staff on 10/02/10
Matthew Miller for MoCoFootball.com
Gaithersburg, MD - In the biggest game MoCo's 4A has offered this year, the Sherwood Stormin' Warriors used a late 4th quarter drive to secure a victory over the host Trojans of Gaithersburg High School. Before a relatively large crowd, both teams came out sluggish in the early part of the 1st quarter and traded punts on consecutive possessions. Perhaps the late 6:45 pm start time had something to do with it. Maybe both teams were waiting for each other to make a mistake or should I say many mistakes? The first mistake came with 1:41 remaining in the 1st quarter when Sherwood quarterback AJ Pignone threw an interception to Gaithersburg defensive end/wide receiver, Billy Brown. The Trojans took over on the Sherwood 31 yard line. On the very next play, Gaithersburg star quarterback Zack Fetters hit Brown for a 30-yard gain across the middle to the 1 yard line. One play later, Gaithersburg rushed to the right for a touchdown and took what seemed to be a commanding 7-0 lead with 2.7 seconds remaining in the 1st quarter. Not to be outdone, Sherwood senior Mike Begley took the ensuing kickoff 95 yards to the other end zone as Sherwood took back all of the momentum. Suddenly, the score was now 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Three minutes into the second quarter, the Gaithersburg offense was faced with a 3rd and 2 on their own 25 yard line. The play clock ran down to nearly zero, when the ball was snapped. The ball scurried past Zack Fetters where he recovered it at the 8 yard line. The Trojans had no other choice but to punt as it was now 4th down with 19 yards to gain for a first down. As the Gaithersburg punter receives the snap, he does so with his knee down in the end zone. Result of the play is a safety in favor of Sherwood. The Stormin' Warriors now lead 9-7 with 9:20 remaining in the half and prepares to receive the free kick. Sherwood gains a few first downs and is then stopped on a 4th down play by the stout Gaithersburg defense. The Trojans take over on the Sherwood 21 yard line. Fetters takes over the ball and drives his team down the field to convert a 3-yard run on a 4th and 2 with 2:02 left in the half. Two plays later, Fetters finds 6'5 wide receiver Kris Westphal for a 40 yard completion across the middle to the 5 yard line. With 29.2 seconds remaining Simba Gwashavamhu received a 2-yard touchdown pass from Fetters to put Gaithersburg up 14-9 going into halftime.
As the 3rd quarter began, Gaithersburg Head Coach Kreg Kephart comes out with a bit of trickery as he attempts an onside kick. Sherwood recovers the ball with ease on the 48 yard line. Like many of the previous Warriors drives, this one goes nowhere fast and they are forced to punt. Gaithersburg does the same and punts back to Sherwood but muffs the punt on their own 19 yard line. Gaithersburg's Michael Mensah recovers the fumble. One play later, Zack Fetters' pass gets deflected and is intercepted in the end zone by Ortiz Jones. Both teams do very little on offense, and the score remains 14-9 in favor of the home team headed into the 4th.
When the fourth quarter begins, both teams know they are only 12 minutes away from continuing their undefeated season and controlling their own destiny towards a home playoff game. Both defenses continue to dominate the game. Gaithersburg, with the ball is in the midst of a deep drive, comes down to a decision on 4th and 5 from their own 10 yard line. Leading 14-9, the Trojans coaching staff decides to attempt the field goal. Following a high snap, the Sherwood special teams races in and blocks the 27 yard field goal attempt. Sherwood cannot take advantage of it and is once again forced to punt. Gaithersburg doesn't do any better and punts as well. Sherwood starts their drive on their 12 yard line with 5:56 left in the game. AJ Pignone connects with one of his many targets for a 24-yard gain to their own 44 yard line. After no gain on 1st down, the Gaithersburg defense comes up with its 6th sack of the game and Sherwood takes an 11 yard loss. AJ Pignone drops back to pass on 3rd and 21 from their 33 yard line and sees star receiver Jamal Merritt on the left side. He throws the ball up for grabs and Merritt is interfered with, resulting in a 15-yard penalty and a first down for Sherwood. A 21-yard pass with 3:15 left to Alex Cole to the Gaithersburg 31-yard line got the Sherwood crowd fired up and momentum looked to have shifted to the away team.
One play later, running back Dylan Hubbard took a screen pass from Pignone, broke multiple tackles and dove his way into the end zone to give the Stormin' Warriors the lead. Sherwood went for 2 and completed the conversion giving them a 17-14 lead with 3:02 left. Gaithersburg looked primed for a game-winning drive beginning with freshman Solomon Vault's kickoff return to the 44-yard line. The Sherwood defense made one last stance and forced a turnover on downs when Gaithersburg could not move the chains. Two runs later, Sherwood gets a first down and the game is over.
All in all, Sherwood's offensive performance was downright ugly. But an ugly win is still better than a loss and Sherwood is still undefeated at 5-0. They have 5 weeks to improve their offense if they expect to compete for a state championship. I expect them to do so. In the loss, Gaithersburg proved that they are for real and they are capable of beating any team in the 4A on any given night. Anyone who underestimates the Trojans should come prepared to be shocked. I fully expect both of these two teams to meet again. Anything short of a regional final will be a disappointment for both programs.
Players of the Game: Sherwood - Dylan Hubbard - For scoring the winning TD / Gaithersburg - Entire Defense: Shutout Sherwood's offense for nearly 45 minutes and had at least 6 sacks against one of the best offensive lines in the County.
Play of the Game: Sherwood's Dylan Hubbard's game winning touchdown who broke tackles, weaved his way past defenders and dove into the end zone to cap off his 31-yard score.
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