Yesterday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association game at No. 9 Mount St. Joseph was a defensive struggle with No. 4 Gilman, but not in the traditional sense.
The defenses struggled because it's hard to defend when teams combine for 918 yards.
Gilman had 481 yards compared to Mount St. Joseph's 437, but in the end the Gaels won, 43-39, on a critical play with 1:26 left.
The Greyhounds, trying to draw the Gaels offside on fourth-and-one from their 15, fumbled the snap. They recovered, but turned over the ball on downs. Je'von Norris (12 carries, 62 yards) scored the game-winning touchdown on the next play, a 14-yard run.
"We didn't want the ball snapped, but it was a miscommunication on my part," said Gilman coach Sherm Bristow. "I take the blame for that, and I apologized to the kids."
The Greyhounds (4-2, 2-1) took their final drive 65 yards to the Gaels' 15 before a pass by Lorne Smith (12-for-14, 206 yards, three touchdowns) fell incomplete as time ran out. James McIntyre (10 receptions, 175 yards) caught touchdowns from Smith of 24, 19 and 39 yards.
"Sherm called a great game today," said Gaels coach Mike Working. "But we have our kids playing hard every play of the game, and they never quit."
For the Gaels (6-1, 2-1), sophomore Lucas Phillips (12-for-15, 278 yards) threw touchdowns of 14, 24, 31 and 66 yards. Junior wide receiver Danny Rosewag had 267 all-purpose yards.
Phillips' 66-yard touchdown pass to John Working 19 seconds before halftime trimmed a 26-17 deficit to 26-24. The Gaels led, 30-26, after Rosewag (six receptions, 177 yards) opened the second half with a 78-yard punt return.
Gilman scored twice more for a 39-30 lead with 5:14 left after an 8-yard run by R.C. Kauffman (28 carries, 190 yards) and a 1-yard run by David Biddison (14 carries, 61 yards).
But Phillips-to-Rosewag worked for 30 and 31 yards on the next series -- the latter for a touchdown that made it 39-37.
"This is a great win for us," said Phillips, who has 11 touchdown passes. "We're having a lot more fun than last year [a 3-7 season]."
The Gaels' Archie Wannamaker rushed eight times for 94 yards and helped set up their first score -- a 32-yard field goal by Greg Suekoff with 6:40 left in the first quarter.
Suekoff ended a 10-play, 61-yard drive and was good on all four extra-point kicks.
But the Greyhounds led, 14-3, early in the second period. Smith's 24-yard scoring pass to McIntyre ended an 11-play, 73-yard first-quarter march, and Kauffman's 2-yard touchdown dive, set up by John-Allen Sykes' interception, capped a five-play, 58-yard drive that included McIntyre's 43-yard reception.
Four plays and 69 yards later, the Gaels were within 14-10, after Phillips found Rosewag for a 24-yard touchdown pass. Rosewag, barely across the plane of the goal, dropped the ball after being hit, but officials ruled it a touchdown.
But on the first play of Gilman's next series, Kauffman exploded for a 54-yard run to the Gaels' 6.
After a holding penalty and Smith's 8-yard loss on a sack, Smith found McIntyre to make it 20-10 with 7:20 left in the half. The play covered 19 yards.
The Gaels faced a 20-17 deficit with 5:10 left in the half after a 14-yard Phillips-to-Norris pass capped a six-play, 65-yard drive. But McIntyre answered with 1:09 left in the half, taking a screen pass 39 yards for the touchdown and a 26-17 lead.