Long Reach's Chris Smith caught a 34-yard touchdown pass on the first half's final play, and the Lightning's defense made it stand up for a 7-6 victory against visiting Oakland Mills yesterday.
The victory was a birthday present for Long Reach coach Pete Hughes.
"That was a heckuva catch," said Oakland Mills coach Ken Hovet. "We didn't think they could score. That's a game we should have won -- and gave away."
Long Reach (5-1 overall, 4-1 league) overcame five turnovers to defeat the Scorpions (3-3, 3-2), who made four turnovers.
Willy Bhatia, who had four catches for 70 yards in the game, set up Long Reach's winning score by intercepting at his own 25-yard line and returning the ball 46 yards to Oakland Mills' 29-yard line.
Bhatia was called offside on the next play -- which would have been a touchdown pass to Smith. After two more incomplete passes down the left side, four seconds remained in the half.
Long Reach quarterback Gregg Matusewitch (9-for-15, 157 yards) found Smith on a sprint pattern down the right sideline. Smith was triple-covered, but managed to catch the ball and fall just over the goal line.
"My defender got too close, and I got a step, and then I tipped the ball to myself and dove for the goal line," Smith said.
Ken Nightengale kicked what proved to be the winning point.
Oakland Mills scored three seconds into the fourth quarter on a 2-yard run by Vinnie Rubbo, who rushed 31 times for 145 yards.
The touchdown was set up by Gregg Kellett's 63-yard run to the 2. Kellett rushed nine times for 90 yards. T. J. Welsh's extra-point kick attempt was wide right.
Each team squandered numerous scoring opportunities.
Oakland Mills lost fumbles at Long Reach's 5- and 25-yard lines ** and threw an interception at the Lightning's 25. The Scorpions were called for holding on a 38-yard pass to Long Reach's 10-yard line, and they failed to get a first down on fourth-and-inches at Long Reach's 15-yard line.
Long Reach lost three fumbles -- at the 5, 25 and 30-yard lines of Oakland Mills -- and ran out of downs at the Oakland Mills 7.
"This was the hardest we've hit all season," Matusewitch said. "It was a hot day and the ball was really wet with sweat. But some of the fumbles were just from the pressure."
Starting Lightning running back Devin Conwell missed a week of practice with a virus and rushed only four times for 11 yards.
"Devin was sick, so we limited him to defense, where we needed him most," Hughes said.
No. 13 Wilde Lake 47, River Hill 0: Brandon Finney rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns as the Wildecats (6-0, 5-0) downed the Hawks (0-6, 0-5) in a Howard County League game. Derrick Bell completed six of eight for 101 yards with two TDs for the
Hammond 35, Howard 18: Randy Curtin scored twice on short touchdown runs to lead the Bears (3-3, 3-2) over the visiting Lions (4-2, 3-2) in a Howard County League game. The Bears led 21-6 before Howard got within 21-12, but the Bears added two fourth quarter touchdowns.
Centennial 20, Atholton 14: Keith Williams put the visiting Eagles (3-3, 2-3) ahead of the Raiders (3-3, 2-3) for good with a 46-yard touchdown run with 10: 49 left and recovered a fumble to set up the insurance score in a Howard County League game.
Pub Date: 10/10/97