Mistakes, penalties leave Wilde Lake at a loss, 24-14 Middletown's win stops Wildecats' bid for 5th title

2A football

November 17, 1996|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

A dropped pass here and yellow flags everywhere.

That was the story line for Wilde Lake in yesterday's Class 2A state quarterfinal and it spelled defeat for the Wildecats, as Middletown capitalized on the miscues and escaped with a 24-14 victory.

The win moved the Knights of Frederick County into next week's semifinal against Wheaton and ended Wilde Lake's bid for a fifth state championship.

"It was a good, classic high school football game. We didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had, but that's how it goes," said Wildecats 23-year coach Doug DuVall. "They're a good football team, and they played good and we didn't play well and they beat us.

"We missed the big plays and to win you have to make the big plays. We had a great season, the kids played hard, but that's what happens in the playoffs."

The Wildecats (10-1) started the game off with a bang as senior Matt Shannon recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff. Wilde Lake took over at Middletown's 29-yard line and moved the ball to the 8. Faced with a fourth-and-six, the Wildecats elected to go for it. Quarterback Derek Bell found wide receiver Barrett Wragg wide open in the back of the end zone but the Wildecats came away empty after Bell's pass bounced off of Wragg's chest and fell incomplete.

Middletown (10-1) answered with an eight-play, 92-yard scoring drive that was kept alive by a roughing-the-passer penalty.

The Wildecats gave the visitors new life again on Middletown's next possession when they were called for roughing the punter, but that penalty was quickly forgotten after Brandon Finney picked off a pass and returned it just inside Middletown's 40. Two plays later, Bell connected with Anthony Jackson on a 37-yard touchdown strike that knotted the game at 7 with 11: 24 left in the half.

Finney recorded his second interception on the Knights' ensuing drive, but Wildecats returned the favor two plays later when Dan Nicholson intercepted a Bell pass.

Bell's second interception of the contest came late in the first half and helped set up an 81-yard scoring drive that gave Middletown a 14-7 cushion at the half. Quarterback Matt Main capped the drive with a nine yard touchdown run.

The Wildecats needed just six plays and 2: 24 to find the end zone in the third quarter. Jackson's leaping grab covered 38 yards and helped set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Dain Lewis that tied the game at 14.

Another late hit on the quarterback got Middletown out of a third-and-long situation and enabled the Knights to kick a 29-yard field goal by Shaun Peters late in the third quarter.

Wilde Lake's final penalty couldn't have come at a worse time. Trailing by three with time running out, the Wildecats' defense had a chance to stop Middletown and get the ball back for the offense. But, on fourth-and-one at their own 6, the Wildecats jumped offsides.

"We thought that if we didn't turn the ball over too much we would have a better opportunity to win. We knew if we let their halfback [Lewis] run that we would be in bad shape," said Middletown coach Tim Ambrose.

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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