Commentary

Lucas saves the games, gets team to playoffs

Updated: October 30, 2009, 11:45 PM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPNRISE.com

DAMASCUS, Md. -- After battling the flu for the entire week, the last thing Brian Lucas wanted to do Friday was play football. However, the senior delivered a game-saving tackle on the last play of the game as Damascus pulled out a 14-13 overtime victory over Clarksburg.

Brian Lucas
Mike Loveday for ESPNRISELucas' tackle in overtime clinched the game and a playoff berth for Damascus.

The game was tied at 7 after regulation. Damascus scored on its first overtime possession and converted the extra point for a 14-7 lead. Clarksburg responded with a three-yard scoring pass from quarterback Andrew Veith to running back Sam Collins, making in 14-13. Clarksburg opted for the two-point conversion and rollout pass-run option for Veith.

Lucas, generally a two-way starter who was limited to mostly offensive action Friday, was in as a spy linebacker, tracking Veith's every move. As Veith rolled to his right, Lucas attacked and hit Veith at the 4, bringing him down and prompting a field-charging celebration by Damascus players.

"That was awesome," Lucas said of the final play. "I told my dad, my goal was to get on Veith and just throw him down. & We were in goal line but I was set just for him, and it played perfect. & That last play was textbook, as my coaches would say."

Damascus' dramatic victory sealed a berth in the Class 3A West region playoffs for the Hornets.

STAYING ALIVE: Despite the loss by Clarksburg, the Coyotes are still in the running for a Class 3A West playoff berth. Entering Week 9, Clarksburg, Damascus, Seneca Valley and Tuscarora were in a four-way race for the last two playoff spots. The Damascus-Clarksburg winner basically sealed one playoff berth. Tuscarora's upset of Urbana has moved the Titans into the No. 4 spot, ahead of Clarksburg and Seneca Valley, which lost in overtime to Whitman on Friday.

UNDER THE WEATHER: Lucas missed school Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with the flu. In fact, during the game, he vomited five times, but attributed that more to nerves.

"The last thing I wanted to do was play a football game," he said. "I wanted to go home and sleep. I was freezing. I had cold sweats. I feel terrible. This sucks. [Before Friday] I had been watching a lot of Price Is Right and Jeopardy."

GAMBLING MAN: After Clarksburg pulled within 14-13, Coyotes coach Larry Hurd did not hesitate to go for a potential game-winning two-point conversion. "We knew we were going to go for two, and that was that. There was no question," said Hurd, whose team fell to 0-2 in overtime games this season. "We were going for it. It didn't work out. You know what, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it was one hell of a football game today."

CLOSE CALL: Damascus nearly won the game in regulation. A 27-run run by Connor Frazier moved the ball to the Clarksburg 11 with just under 2 minutes, 30 seconds remaining. A rush for a loss, followed by a holding penalty, followed by a touchdown negated by an illegal forward pass penalty, put Damascus in a third-and-long situation with 1:15 remaining. Connor Frazier connected with Tyler Patton on a 15-yard pass that moved the ball to the 8 for a 25-yard field goal. However, Alberto Marroquin's attempt sailed wide left with 30 seconds left.

MUD BOWL: Friday's game was played in sloppy conditions and it had nothing to due with weather. Earlier this week, while the tarp was on the field, the sprinkler system was activated, according to a Damascus team official, drenching the field. Two days passed before the error was realized, but the net result was a torn up, soaked playing field.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES: Damascus, after gaining only one first down in the first half and being held to 17 yards on 14 plays, opened the third quarter with nine-play, 55-yard touchdown drive. The series was capped by a Lucas six-yard touchdown run. Damascus put up 160 yards in the second half with eight first downs.

BY THE NUMBERS: Lucas ended with a game-high 68 rushing yards on 24 carries, but he was less than thrilled with the performance. "The holes were there, I just wasn't producing," he said. "I felt bad." & Veith led Clarksburg with 65 yards on 17 rushes. DeSean Martinez had 54 yards on 14 carries for the Coyotes. & Frazier completed 7 of 12 passes for 87 yards. Veith hit on 8 of 13 passes for 74 yards. & Brandon Phelps and Joel Ross each had an interception for Damascus.

THE START OF SOMETHING SPECIAL?: When team captains met prior to the opening kickoff, there were plenty of hugs to go around. After all, most of these players and friends and grew up together. Had it not been for the opening of Clarksburg High School in 2006, most of the Clarksburg players would have been wearing Damascus colors. Friday's clash, which drew an overflow crowd at Damascus, was the first meeting between these schools. Since Seneca Valley has Northwest (which was carved from the Seneca Valley draw area), the Clarksburg opening gives Damascus a new primary rival.

Damascus 14, Clarksburg 13

Clarksburg 0 7 0 0 6 _ 13
Damascus 0 0 7 0 7 _ 14

Second Quarter
C -- Ace Clark 15 pass from Andrew Veith (Vicente Kinney kick)

Third Quarter
D -- Brian Lucas 6 run (Alberto Marroquin kick)

Overtime
D - Nick Pugh 10 pass from Connor Frazier (Marroquin kick)
C - Sam Collins 5 pass from Veith (run failed)