It was billed as the battle of the backs: Forest Park's Obie Barnes Jr., the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference's leading rusher, facing off against the conference's second-place rusher, Cardinal Gibbons' Eugene Marshall.
Give this round to Barnes, with a little help from his friends.
Sixth-ranked Forest Park (7-1, 5-1) used three touchdowns by Barnes to rally from a one-point halftime deficit and defeat host and No. 11 Cardinal Gibbons (4-4, 4-3), 20-7, yesterday.
"It was on my mind when I heard about it," Barnes said of his meeting with Marshall, "but I give the credit to my line. They produced tonight [last night]."
Barnes finished with 184 yards on 23 carries, while Marshall had 127 yards, also on 23 carries, to lead the Crusaders.
"I don't like to put that kind of pressure on him," said Obie Barnes Sr., the running back's father and Forest Park's coach. "I told him at halftime that we would have to use him more because they were stunting, and he just said 'no problem.' "
The Forresters got into the act early, taking the opening kickoff and driving 80 yards to take the lead. A 28-yard pass to Eric Bazemore from Mark Cooper on third and 24 at the Forest Park 49 was the big play in the drive. Barnes took the ball in with 5:06 left in the first quarter to give the Forresters a 6-0 lead.
Midway through the second quarter, Cardinal Gibbons responded. After a Forest Park punt was downed at the 4-yard line, the Crusaders covered 96 yards in 12 plays. Marshall handled the ball six consecutive times in the drive, but Nick Giro's reception of a kick-pass by Jason King from 10 yards out tied the score. Wally Lowery's extra point gave the Crusaders a 7-6 lead with 2:12 left in the second quarter.
The Crusaders moved the ball well on their second drive of the second half, but an apparent first down on third and three at midfield was called back because of a holding penalty, forcing third and 18. Gibbons failed to pick up the first down.
On the first play after the punt, Barnes swept around the right side for a 54-yard touchdown to give the Forresters a 12-7 lead on the last play of the third quarter. Dwayne Green's run on the conversion boosted the Forresters to 14-7.
The Crusaders got the ball back with 9:16 left at the Forresters 41 after a short punt, but coach Frank Trcka's gamble on fourth and four at the 35 came up a yard short.