CUMBERLAND — Just outside the Oakland Mills dressing room at Greenway Avenue Stadium stood a clump of ailanthus trees, also known as "trees of heaven."
In the state 2A football quarterfinals on Friday, the Scorpions could have used a little divine intervention.
In their 21-7 loss to Allegany, one could not blame Oakland Millsplayers if they thought the fates were conspiring against them a little.
"We didn't get the breaks today; they did," said Oakland Mills coach Ken Klock. "They told their kids the same thing we told ours -- this game was the state championship."
Had it not been for a penalty here and a key fumble there, not to mention a knee injury suffered by Oakland Mills' leading rusher, Monte Spencer, the Scorpions, not the Campers, could be making plans for the semifinals.
"That's football," shrugged Allegany running back Steve Milburn. "You can't expect every break to go your way."
Milburn and Allegany had everything going their way at the outset.
They took the opening kickoff and smartly marched down the field on a nine-play, 62-yard drive thatresulted in a 4-yard touchdown run by Scott McGann.
The Scorpionsthreatened several times in the first half, but the football gods did not smile upon them.
Every time the Scorpions would begin to drive, mistakes would stall them.
Late in the first half, quarterbackAntwan Baker hit receiver Todd Wilkins for 29 yards to the Allegany 4-yard line. Elation on the Oakland Mills side: They were going in totie.
The Scorpions were flagged for holding, and the ball was pushed back to the 47-yard line. End of threat. Beginning of agony.
"They were really calling some penalties I didn't think were necessary," Baker said.
"That, plus when Monte Spencer got hurt, that really set us back."
Spencer suffered a twisted knee latein the first half and carried the ball only once in the second half.
He had gained 37 yards on seven carries in the first two quarters.
Still, the Scorpions managed to forge a tie, taking the second-half kickoff and driving 62 yards.
Akil Benjamin's 8-yard run at 7 minutes, 42 seconds of the quarter tied the score at 7.
At this point, Klock had to be pleased with his players' performance, especially since some had written them off after their inauspicious 1-3 start this year.
"We don't know much about them," he said of Allegany before the game.
"And they can't know much about us, because nobody expected us to be here."
But mistakes continued to hurt the Scorpions.
Late in the third quarter, following an Allegany punt, Benjamin fumbled at the Oakland Mills 26-yard line.
McGann pounced on the ball for the Campers, and then scored the go-ahead touchdown moments into the fourth period.
On the ensuing series, Baker fumbled thesnap from center and Allegany recovered. Milburn than ran for the final touchdown.
For the game, Oakland Mills gained 174 yards on 48 plays, and Allegany, 221 yards on 40 plays. Milburn, the Campers' leading rusher with over 1,100 yards this year, accounted for 138 on 20 carries and a touchdown.
Despite their hard-luck loss, the Scorpions didn't come away without some satisfaction.
"It was one of the best games I've been in," Baker said.