Richard Johnson and Vince Fuller stood together near midfield moments after Johnson's third-ranked Milford Mill teammates had escaped Fuller's unranked Woodlawn with a critical 24-19 Baltimore County 3A-4A League victory.
Fuller, whose team is 4-2 in league play (4-3 overall), gave "props" to the 6-foot, 170-pound Johnson, who is rated the state's No. 1 player by The ACC Journal, and, No. 4 in the country among cornerback recruits by The National Recruiting Advisor. Johnson, whose team is 6-0 in the league and 7-0 overall, was "impressed a lot" by Fuller, saying, "he can run, throw, and flat-out play."
Fuller (6-0, 170) demonstrated why four Division I programs have offered him full football scholarships with his game-high 100 rushing yards and one touchdown on 18 carries, and with 9-for-14 passing for 167 yards and another score.
Down 6-0, and facing fourth-and-two, Fuller sprinted around the right side for a 16-yard touchdown and 7-6 lead with 7: 22 left in the first half.
After a 7-yard run by Wesley Lashley had Woodlawn within 14-13 at halftime, Fuller turned Mark Spears' fumble recovery into a 71-yard scoring strike to Noel Duhaney (three receptions, 92 yards) and a 19-14 lead with 6: 21 left in the third period. Fuller faced third-and-18 on the play.
But Johnson answered with the game-winning 55-yard scoring run with five seconds left in the third period, bouncing off a would-be tackler and sprinting down Milford Mill's sideline. He had been limited to 5 rushing yards until then.
Down by the final margin with 1: 27 to play, however, Fuller nearly engineered a game-wining drive. Starting from his own 19-yard line, Fuller completed five of seven passes for 52 yards, rushed once for 15 yards and got Woodlawn a first-and-goal at Milford's 9 with 26 seconds to play.
On the next play, however, Fuller's intended receiver, Duhaney, had beaten defender Jermaine Rice (one interception) when Rice followed coach Reggie Brooks' instructions to "tackle" Duhaney in the end zone.
The resulting pass interfearance call gave Woodlawn first-and-goal at Milford Mill's 4-yard line with 12 seconds left. But with no timeouts remaining, the game ended as the Millers stopped Spears at the 1.
"He's one of the best in the state, if not the best," Fuller said of Johnson, who finished with 130 of his team's 195 total yards of offense. "But it was their whole team that beat us."
Jermere Sims' 21-yard run gave the Millers a 6-0 lead with 59 seconds left in the first period, and his second conversion run of the day followed Johnson's score. Muhammed Howard had an interception, a sack, and followed teammate Morgan Pinkney's fumble recovery with a 19-yard touchdown run for a 12-7 lead with 1: 50 left in the half.
Down 19-14, Pinkney sacked Fuller for a safety as Milford pulled within 19-16, with 59 seconds left in the third period.
Johnson, who came into the game with 14 touchdown passes, was hurried most of the afternoon by 6-3, 265-pound sophomore Jesse Hayes (two sacks), 6-4, 290-pound Guy Williams and Omar McGee-Bey (one sack).
Renard Stancil and Brandon Thompson, who entered the game with a combined 13 scoring receptions, were limited to a combined four receptions for 56 yards. Woodlawn's Allante Harrison had an interception.
"Their cornerbacks played our receivers tight, they contained me all day," said Johnson. "It was no cake-walk."
No. 9 McDonogh 42, John Carroll 14: Scott Dolch passed for 300 yards and five touchdowns for the defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B-Conference champion Eagles (6-0).
No. 10 Wilde Lake 13, No. 8 Oakland Mills 10, OT: Mario Merrills' game-winning 10-yard score lifted the Wildecats (6-1, 5-1 Howard County) over the visiting Scorpions (5-2, 4-2).
Pub Date: 10/17/99