Fourth-ranked Overlea's Bernard Fitchette has used his quickness and superb athletic ability to earn a reputation as the most elusive quarterback in Baltimore County.
But in yesterday's 28-12 win over Chesapeake, one play almost changed all that.
With the host Falcons running out the clock and just 1:11 left in the game, Fitchette was tackled on a quarterback keeper and suffered what was first thought to be a season-threatening broken right femur.
But after being transported by ambulance to Franklin Square Hospital, X-rays showed that it was nothing more than a deep thigh bruise. Though the injury might keep him out of next week's game against Pikesville, for coach Terry Ward, the later diagnosis was like an early Christmas present.
"Relieved is an understatement," said Ward after learning the news last night. "He's really a super kid, and to have him rested and ready for the final stretch of the season is the best news possible."
The injury -- which left Fitchette writhing in pain on the field for nearly 10 minutes -- nearly overshadowed the Falcons' win against the previously unbeaten Bayhawks.
The victory gave Overlea (7-0, 5-0) sole possession of first place in the Baltimore County 1A-2A League and widened its lead in the Class 2A, North Region.
Fitchette played a major role in the win, completing four of five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, and carrying the ball 13 times for another 63 yards.
The elusive 5-8 senior has been an integral part of Overlea's drive for its first state title game appearance since 1987.
His teams haven't lost to a county opponent since he was a freshman (on the JV).
The injury occurred just one play after his apparent 52-yard touchdown pass was called back when the referee ruled that he had crossed the line of scrimmage. On the next play, Fitchette rolled right on a keeper, eluding one tackler before getting hit with a clean shot from Chesapeake's Donte Johnson.
"He got a good shot on him and his leg just snapped back," said running back Dan Brown, who was near Fitchette when the injury occurred.
Until that point, the spotlight was on Brown, who ran 16 times for 114 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 8 and 42 yards.
The 6-0, 155-pound running back, who recently moved in into the backfield after recovering from a broken hand, had most of his success going up the middle, directly at standout linebacker Lamar King.
"We went after him," said Ward. "We wanted to make sure we put someone on him to wear him down, and it worked pretty well."
The Falcons took a 6-0 lead with 40 seconds left in the first quarter when Fitchette hit Francel Smith with a 12-yard touchdown pass, capping an 11-play, 71-yard drive.
Overlea was driving on its next possession when Chesapeake (6-1, 4-1) got a break. Overlea fullback Mike Forney fumbled the ball into the Bayhawks' end zone just before crossing the plane of the goal. Chesapeake recovered for a touchback.
But the Falcons came right back on their next possession, ending a 44-yard drive with Brown's 8-yard run to make it 12-0 with 1:32 left in the half.
When Brown broke a 42-yard run for a touchdown on Overlea's first play of the second half to make it 18-0, the rout was on.
"We came in here really ready, but we couldn't execute," said Chesapeake coach Rick Zentz.