By Adam Chasen:
BETHESDA, MD – In a back and forth game that literally came down to the final second, the Clarksburg Coyotes walked off of Walter Johnson’s field with a surprisingly close win on Friday night. Clarksburg’s star senior Stefan Houston would not let his team fall to an 0-and-2 record to start the season, despite Walter Johnson’s (0-2) best efforts. The highly recruited linebacker/receiver had a huge game, which turned out to be just enough to overcome the upstart WJ squad.
Houston opened the scoring up with an 80-yard catch and run for a touchdown on a middle screen, to put Clarksburg up 6-0 in the first quarter, but he was hardly done. While playing full-time on both sides of the ball, as well as, holding a key role on special teams, Houston put up prolific numbers once again. He matched his week 1 total of two touchdowns on the night, to go along with 7 catches for 178 yards, 30 more rushing yards, a two-point conversion, and an interception to top it off.
Houston had a big game last week in an overtime loss to Damascus in front of Maryland Head Coach Randy Edsall. Besides Maryland, Rutgers, West Virginia, and East Carolina have all made offers to the senior standout.
Clarksburg senior quarterback Mike Sheehan (17-28 for 329 yards and 2 TD’s) found Houston early and often, and senior Barry Solomon helped out by busting an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, while also adding 110 receiving yards as well. But the Walter Johnson squad never went away.
The high scoring affair was far from one-sided, as Walter Johnson’s Elad Covaliu had a monster game to almost offset Houston’s performance. Covaliu had three plays over 60 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown catch, to pull Walter Johnson within two points with less than a minute remaining in the first half 12-10.
While the first half score didn’t necessarily reflect it, big plays were in abundance on both offense and special teams. Both teams had touchdowns nullified by penalties in the first half, Stefan Houston returned a 35-yard interception for a score that was called back for a block in the back, while Walter Johnson’s Andrew Pitsenberger had a 53-yard rushing touchdown nullified by a holding penalty.
Pitsenberger had his typical standout performance from his middle linebacker position for the senior, and broke loose on a 34-yard run in the latter stages of the third quarter to setup a 1-yard score for quarterback Brian England. England’s touchdown gave Walter Johnson their first lead, and the home team looked to have the game’s momentum in their hands, especially when punter Collin Carroll (2-2 fg’s, 2-2 extra points) fielded an errant snap on 4th and 9, inside the team’s own 20-yard line. Carroll easily could have panicked or punted the ball out of bounds, but instead he used his speed to gain 33-yards and a first down on the busted play.
“I just picked it up and used my athletic ability,” explained Carroll. ”The team blocked for me, great blocking, and I turned the jets on. The great blocking really made it happen.”
Now facing a 20-12 deficit, Clarksburg refused to go quietly into the night.
“We played as poorly as a team could play, and we still found a way to win,” said Clarksburg Coach Larry Hurd citing a horrendous practice schedule caused by the area weather as a reason for the lack of fluidity from his team. ”Good teams win when they don’t come to play. We didn’t show up and we still won.”
“Our kids thought they were going to come in here and push Walter Johnson around. Coach Kadi did a great job with his team to get them ready.”
Clarksburg tied the score at the start of the 4th quarter at 20-20 on Stefan Houston’s second touchdown of the night, this time from 22-yards out, and the subsequent two-point conversion, also converted by Houston successfully.
The visitors would grab a brief 26-20 lead, before Walter Johnson answered back with a score of their own. The Collin Carroll extra point put Walter Johnson back ahead by the slimmest of margins, 27-26 with minutes left in the game.
Clarksburg once again found a way to come back, driving the field and calling on kicker Vincente Kinney with two minutes remaining. Kinney, who has struggled all year with a pulled quad muscle, had a shaky night converting his kicks, but with the game on the line the senior knocked in a short field goal to give his team a 29-27 lead.
“He’s been hurt all year. We haven’t been able to use (Kinney) to kick all year. He told me, Coach, I’m going to kick, and as soon as he kicked the game winning field goal you could see him go down, and that’s the heart of a champion,” explained Coach Hurd.
Walter Johnson was not finished, and after a big kickoff return across midfield, the underdogs were in striking range for their kicker, who said he feels comfortable from 50-yards and in. But an errant pass from England ended up in the hands of a Clarksburg defender to seemingly end the game.
After three quick stops, Clarksburg was forced to punt on 4th down from their own ten yard line with just seconds remaining. The punt barely got back to the line of scrimmage and rolled on the ground as the clock ran. After a brief discussion the referee crew ruled that the clock had expired during play and the game would be ended, negating a chance for Walter Johnson to win the game on a final play with a short field goal.
Clarksburg will look to pickup their second win on the road next week at Richard Montgomery, while Walter Johnson has a home game against Springbrook where they will try to earn their first win of the 2011 season.
For more photos: http://homegamesports.smugmug.com/MarylandGamedayGalleries/Sports/Clarksburg-vs-Walter-Johnson/18959440_CMPxvR#1471904425_QrndVR7