After Howard's victory, debate ticks on Hammond insists time had run out

October 16, 1992|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Six days after the most controversial ending to a Howard County football game in many years, the parties are still talking -- or, in Hammond coach Joe Russo's case, fuming -- about it.

Howard pulled out a 15-14 victory over Hammond on a 27-yard field goal by Ben Krupka as time expired. But that hasn't stopped the post-game cries of foul from Hammond.

Russo, who contends the game was over before Howard ran the play, submitted a videotape of the game along with a protest to Don Disney, the county's supervisor of athletics.

Russo said he feels the officiating crew gave Howard an advantage after an injury to a Hammond player, which stopped the clock with 12 seconds left. After the player left the field, Russo said the clock didn't start soon enough, giving Howard, which was out of timeouts, time to line up for the field goal.

A county football game result never has been overturned, and Disney upheld the result.

"All officials' decisions are final. It's right in our handbook," Disney said. "I've got some concerns with some of the things that happened at the end of the game, and I'll address them with the officials. I take protests seriously, but I can't overturn a game."

One of Russo's main beefs was that the officiating crew did not hold a conference to address his initial protest before running off the field.

Bill Enders, commissioner of the Washington District Football Officials Association, which supplies the county's football officials, upheld his crew's call and the haste with which it departed the Howard field.

"The umpire and line judges all said there was one second left when the ball was snapped. The referee was the only who couldn't tell, since his back was turned to the clock," Enders said. "They felt they had to get out of there at the end of the game. They were being pressured by coaches, players, everybody. They feared for their safety."

Said Russo: "The refs are controlling the football game, and I'm sick and tired of it. It's an injustice to our kids."

The Lions tell a different story.

Howard long snapper Ed Weeks had a unique vantage point as time wound down. Weeks described the scene from his position -- bent over the ball, looking between his legs at holder Carlton Fox, with the scoreboard clock in view, albeit upside down.

"As soon as I saw the clock hit two [seconds], I snapped it to the holder," Weeks says. "I've been snapping all my life, and I know it doesn't take me two seconds to snap the ball."

But Russo rejected that explanation. "What makes me mad is Howard didn't beat us. The refs beat us," he said. "Anybody who saw the game knows that. They ruined a lot of our drives during the game."

Questionable calls aside, Hammond (3-3, 2-1) ruined itself. The Golden Bears committed two costly 15-yard penalties to fuel Howard's last drive, and they continue to be plagued by flags. Hammond drew eight penalties and lost 71 yards against Howard. The Bears have 425 yards in penalties this season.

For the Lions (3-3, 1-2), it was their first home victory.

Running back/linebacker Guy Smith continues to have a superb season for the Lions. He has rushed for 561 yards on 77 carries (7.3-yard average) and, with a 15 tackles against Hammond, has 44 solo tackles, 29 assists, two sacks and a fumble recovery.

More tough play for Hammond

Things don't get any easier for Hammond, which cannot afford another loss if it intends to make the playoffs. Tomorrow, it takes on rejuvenated Glenelg (5-1, 3-0).

First, Hammond must stop Gladiators' halfback Paul Brosenne, who needs 52 yards to reach 1,000.

Then, there is 5-foot-9, 160-pound sophomore quarterback Sean Lookingbill. Since winning the job over incumbent Matt Morraye during the preseason, Lookingbill has not looked back. He has completed 56 percent of his passes for 481 yards, both league highs, and has shown remarkable poise. He has been sacked twice in six games.

Defensively, Glenelg is improving with each game. Inside linebacker Randy Garland (35 solos, 36 assists, four sacks, two interceptions) and free safety Jason Caulder (47 tackles, four interceptions) have been the main sparks. The Gladiators have surrendered 47 points.

Wilde Lake's move pays off

Here's some bad news for Wilde Lake opponents. When they moved Nate Cassella into the offensive backfield two weeks ago, the Wildecats put the final piece of the puzzle in place for the stretch drive.

Cassella, already the best defensive end in the county, has rushed for 266 yards on 24 carries. A ferocious runner, he complements speedy Mike Green (86 rushes, 494 yards) perfectly and gives the Wildecats excellent offensive balance.

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