Howard clocks ticked Hammond

With the clock showing no time remaining, Ben Krupka kicked a 27-yard field goal, lifting Howard to a wild and controversial 15-14 victory over visiting Hammond yesterday in a Howard County game.

"I knew the clock was going down," said Krupka, who was carried off the field by his teammates in celebration. "When there's pressure on, I normally do better, and I was confident that I would make it."


At the conclusion of the game, an outraged crew of Hammond coaches stormed off the field after the officials, who declined to comment.

With just more than a minute left, Howard was behind 14-12 when it began a final series on its own 36. On third-and-11, Dalawn Parrish threw an incomplete pass. The Bears, however, were called for pass interference, creating a first down at midfield. Parrish misfired again, but Hammond was whistled for a personal foul after kicking the ball, and the Lions gained an additional first down at the 35.


Next, Parrish connected with back Curtis McTavish, who carried to the 10. A frenzy then ensued. With a Hammond player down because of an apparent injury, the officials halted play with 10 seconds showing.

They soon restarted the clock, and with both benches screaming -- Howard's coaches wanted a timeout and Hammond's coaches yelled that the game had ended -- Krupka became the hero in Howard's homecoming.

"The game was clearly over. [The officials] gave them the football game," said Hammond coach Joe Russo, who plans an appeal to county officials. "The game was over before [Howard] even snapped the ball, and then they just let it go."

Howard coach John Quinn said: "It was close. I thought the snap and the kick happened right before [the clock] hit zero. If it had gone another second, the refs would have called the game."

Howard's victory ended a disappointing crop of losses this season. The Lions fell 3-0 to Wilde Lake in overtime, 16-15 to Parkville on a last-minute grounding penalty that cost a safety, and 22-14 to Glenelg after the game was tied, 14-14, heading into the final period.

Howard improved to 3-3, 1-2 in the county. Hammond dropped to 4-2, 2-1.

"We finally found a way to win a close game this season," Quinn said. "Conceivably, we could be an undefeated team."

Hammond was the dominant team from start to finish.


From the time Howard scored in the first period to take a 6-0 lead, the Lions failed to construct a consistent drive. Hammond also forced four turnovers.

After Howard scored on its opening possession -- Carlton Fox's 4-yard reception from Parrish -- the Bears tied the game, 6-6, on Danny Boone's 1-yard run in the second period. Linebacker Jim Weston's fumble recovery set up the score, and Hammond converted two fourth downs in a nine-play, 25-yard drive.

With 27 seconds left in the half, Hammond quarterback Rudy Cooper (7-of-13, 108 yards) capped a 62-yard drive with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Stevens. Mike Matthews' two-point conversion run gave Hammond its 14-6 lead.

Howard inched closer on the second half's opening kickoff. Scott Strother, a secondary returner, found an opening on the left side and raced untouched 76 yards into the end zone.

Hammond 0 14 0 0 -- 14

Howard 6 0 6 3 -- 15


HO -- Fox 4 pass from Parrish (kick failed)

HA -- Boone 1 run (kick failed)

HA -- Stevens 37 pass from Cooper (Matthews run)

HO -- Strother 76 kickoff return (pass failed)

HO -- Krupka 27 field goal