Oakland Mills has had the character to win close games all season. Yesterday's state Class 1A semifinal against Cambridge-South Dorchester was no exception.
The No. 13 Scorpions rallied twice against Cambridge in Columbia to snatch a 14-13 victory.
And for only the second time in school history, Oakland Mills will be playing in a state football championship game. They'll face Forestville Friday at 3 p.m. in College Park.
Oakland Mills (11-1), which has never won a state title, received many impressive individual performances.
Sophomore J. T. Rembert, starting his third game, scored both touchdowns and rushed 15 times for 69 yards. His 6-yard run on a sweep capped a 65-yard Scorpions scoring drive that began with 10: 02 left to play, right after Cambridge (10-2) had gone ahead, 13-7.
"I'll remember that TD the rest of my life," said Rembert, who had dropped a pass in the end zone in the third quarter. "I had my head down for a little while but came back. T. J. [quarterback T. J. Welsh] stepped up and played a heck of a game for us. This is the greatest feeling in the world."
Senior running back Vinnie Rubbo, injured most of the season with a sprained ankle and sprained knee after a record-setting junior year, rushed 17 times for 127 yards and showed flashes of his former brilliance. Rubbo also blocked the extra-point attempt on Cambridge's second touchdown.
"Rubbo played a huge game," Oakland Mills coach Ken Hovet said.
Cambridge coach Doug Fleetwood pointed to Rubbo's willingness to play while injured as one reason for Oakland Mills' victory.
"I know Rubbo played hurt and they showed character. We just couldn't stand up to them physically. We were worn down on their winning drive," Fleetwood said.
Welsh also played injured after popping out his throwing shoulder in last week's victory over Bohemia Manor. Welsh, who set the school single-season passing yardage record this season, missed on his first six passes before completing a 30-yarder to favorite target Tom Browne.
That set up Oakland Mills' first touchdown, Rembert's 4-yard run with 8: 23 left in the first half.
"I didn't think Welsh's ineffectiveness would continue," Hovet said. "He wasn't loose and was throwing into the wind. The ball was diving. In our game plan we had to throw. I was surprised they didn't blitz more."
Welsh completed 10 of 21 passes for 109 yards. He also made runs of 19 and 12 yards and completed one pass to Joey Ellis for 14 yards on the winning touchdown drive.
"We knew we could drive on them," Welsh said. "We had all pistons firing. Our offensive line was crushing their defensive line. And J. T. [Rembert] played well."
Pub Date: 11/22/98