Time is on Mt. Hebron's side in 23-20 win over River Hill

Football

High Schools

November 02, 2003|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Mount Hebron coach Larry Luthe planted a kiss on the side of Toni Sacke's face as a grinning Luthe walked off the River Hill football field yesterday.

"Oh, you probably don't do that in Germany, do you," Luthe said about the kiss.

In Germany, soccer players don't win crucial football games with field goals in the final 6.5 seconds, either.

Sacke, a junior exchange student who never played football before this season, connected on a line-drive 30-yarder that barely cleared the crossbar to defeat River Hill, 23-20.

The kick kept the fifth-ranked Hawks (7-2 overall, 6-2 league) from clinching the first playoff spot in the school's eight-year history and ended their county championship hopes. The Hawks can still make the playoffs, but now must defeat Glenelg - which has a 35-game regular-season unbeaten streak.

Sacke's kicked capped a 53-yard drive to the River Hill 12-yard line that began with 1 minute, 26 seconds left in the game and completed one of the most bizarre finishes in Howard County football history.

It also gave the unranked Vikings (6-3, 6-2) a chance at the playoffs if they defeat No. 6 Wilde Lake next week.

"I'm feeling so good I can't describe it," Sacke said in his strong German accent. "It was so great."

Forced to wait 11 minutes before attempting the kick while officials decided whether or not the clock should have run out on the previous play, Sacke said he kept his eyes focused on the crossbar the entire time.

"I wasn't thinking about anything except that I just wanted to kick it over that bar," said Sacke, who began this season trying out for soccer, which he played in Germany.

After Mount Hebron was penalized with nine seconds showing on the scoreboard clock, following a 7-yard run by Brian Dribben to the River Hill 6, officials decided they had failed to stop the clock soon enough, so five seconds were added, leaving 14 seconds to play.

Once the holding penalty was marked off back to the 21, the clock should have resumed running, said River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen. Instead, the Vikings huddled and started their play before the clock restarted, which Van Deusen estimated was at least seven seconds.

Quarterback Kyle Barnett then ran for 9 yards, and 6.5 seconds were on the official clock as the Vikings called time out to prepare for the field goal.

"The game should have ended on that last running play, and we should have gone to overtime," said Van Deusen. "The referee said he thought the previous play had been an incomplete pass instead of a run, and so he didn't signal for the clock to begin running again as he should have. The officials admitted they made a mistake, but said they weren't sure how much time to take off the clock, so they let him take the kick."

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