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Conway was a man possessed

November 08, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

BOONSBORO -- Josh Conway has all the makings of an economics major.

As a football player, he already does so much with so little. As an interview, he does the same with one quote.

"It was all on the line," said Smithsburg's running back/receiver hybrid player (that's economy) on Friday after scoring two touchdowns to lead the No. 4 Leopards to a 20-13 win over No. 3 Boonsboro in their mega-rivalry rematch.

It was all on the line -- an undefeated record, the MVAL Antietam title, the Maryland Class 1A West playoff seedings and the all-important South County bragging rights.

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Smithsburg won them all.

But it was all on the line -- specifically Smithsburg's offensive line which Conway credited with all of his success, especially in the game-deciding fourth-quarter drive when he rushed for 54 yards and the winning touchdown.

"We had such great penetration on the offensive line," Conway said. "We have been prepared well all season long. We don't look past anyone. Everyone was great. It's been a while since we beat Bo onsboro. They know how to win, but we left it all out there."

The reward was obvious. The Smithsburg half of the overflow crowd at Warrior Stadium began chanting "10-0 ... 10-0 ... 10-0" as the final seconds ran off the clock. The Leopards rushed to the sideline to line up for the traditional postgame handshake and then rushed over to some waiting fans who charged on the field to celebrate with their team.

Conway missed most of it because he had a harder time getting past media representatives than he did Boonsboro defenders.

That's because Conway did his best to lay it on the line for the Leopards in a game that he and the rest of Smithsburg's seniors will carry with them forever. He was the spark plug in the Leopards' offensive machine.

He made his first statement by running back a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown to counter Boonsboro's opening score and make it 7-7 at the half. Conway ran off the field, ripping his helmet off on the sideline with a victorious yell that would have made the Incredible Hulk proud.

"He made some plays that made the difference," Boonsboro coach Clayton Anders said. "We scored and that kickoff return killed our momentum. We were so pumped up and that killed it all."

Conway later stopped a possible Boonsboro scoring drive with an interception.

For the final act, Smithsburg turned to Conway to start running exclusively out of the tailback slot, beginning with the score tied at 13 and 8:20 remaining. He replaced Erick Parker, who put in a yeoman's effort with 96 yards on 25 carries to help put the Leopards in position.

"Erick was to run the ball and ran it for three quarters," Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said. "We know Josh has great vision and can see the field. He gave us a spark. ... He ignited everybody. Erick ran for three quarters and was tired. Josh was the man."

Conway lit the fuse for Smithsburg with his first touch of the ball on the winning drive, going 27 yards over right tackle and refusing to be taken down, just as he did during the kickoff return. It moved the Leopards from their 38 to the Boonsboro 35.

He followed with a key 8-yard run -- maybe the key play of the game -- over the right tackle on a third-and-5 to keep the drive alive.

"Maybe I was a bit fresher," said Conway, who finished with 80 yards rushing on 10 carries. "But it was all about the line. They didn't go down and kept their legs churning. They knew if they would have let up, we could lose. (Fullback Tyler Scott) gave some great blocks and Erick did a lot of the work early."

Conway gave the performance of a man possessed on the 6-yard touchdown run that won the game. He broke through the line and took on four Boonsboro defenders, overpowering their push to get the ball across the goal line for the lead with 5:15 remaining.

"It was just up the middle," Conway said. "Our linemen came and told us where the holes were open and each one of then wanted to have the ball run over them."

Conway economically packaged the speed, power and desire both coaches considered the key aspects that would decide the game.

"They wanted it more than we did," Anders said. "When Conway came in at tailback, we didn't have an answer."

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