Leopards' late score tops Lions

October 06, 2007|By MARK KELLER

WALKERSVILLE, Md. - Sometimes high school football is all about guts.

Friday night definitely was one of those times for Smithsburg.

It took a gut feeling from Leopards coach Buddy Orndorff to make a gutsy call and a gutsy catch by Kevin Kocsis in the final minute to give No. 3 Smithsburg a gut-wrenching 21-14 victory over Walkersville.

With a Lions defender running beside him stride for stride, Kocsis laid out to catch a perfectly thrown pass from Bryan Faulders for a 24-yard touchdown with 26 seconds remaining in the game, giving the Leopards (5-0) a 19-14 lead.

"Kevin just had a heck of a game. He made three big-time catches in coverage," Orndorff said. "We had a feeling they were going to try to take (receiver Josh) Conway away from us and that opened Kevin up a little bit. And Bryan has great touch and showed a lot of poise getting that ball to him."


That score came less than three minutes after the Lions (2-3) took the lead for the first time. Quarterback Zach Powell engineered a 10-play, 59-yard drive, closing it out with a 13-yard scramble to the 1-yard line and a keeper into the end zone. Kyle Wilcom added the PAT for a 14-13 Walkersville lead with 2:57 remaining.

Kocsis had three big plays on the decisive drive, starting with the kickoff return to give the Leopards decent field position at their own 31. After two Erick Parker runs netted four yards, Faulders connected with Kocsis between two defenders for a 35-yard gain to the Walkersville 30.

Two more runs up the middle picked up six yards and Orndorff appeared to be setting up Matt Plumley for a shot at a game-winning field goal. On third down, Conway got his fingertips on Faulders' pass across the middle, but could not haul it in.

With little hesitation, Orndorff sent in a fourth-down play and not Plumley, who earlier had his streak of 23 straight PATs broken.

"I didn't doubt that Matt could hit the field goal, but Kevin was having a big night," Orndorff said. "It was a gut call and they made it happen."

The Leopards led 13-0 at halftime on a pair of Faulders touchdown passes - a 14-yarder to Kocsis in the first quarter and a 13-yarder to Dan Rishell in the second.

The defense also came up big in the first half, forcing three Walkersville fumbles in the second quarter and recovering all three. The first two came after long gains by Lions running back D.J. Dawkins, who finished with 167 yards.

"Turnovers kept us in the game. We've got a good defense. We're not real big, but we like to hit," Orndorff said. "You don't get turnovers if you don't hit."

Powell got the Lions on the board late in the third quarter with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Troy Hubbard, leading Orndorff to wonder whether the missed extra point would come back to haunt the Leopards.

"I was scared to death of that," Orndorff said. "At 13-0 you think this could be interesting. Then it gets to 13-7 and it gets real interesting. Missed extra points always make you worry."

Powell completed 15 of 20 passes for 176 yards. The Lions outgained the Leopards, 380-312.

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