Long Reach's 21-14 overtime win at Oakland Mills was a thing of beauty yesterday. It was only after the game that things got ugly.
Long Reach quarterback Stewart Long scored on a 1-yard run on the third play of overtime to give the Lightning (5-3, 5-2) a 21-14 lead. Long led his team with 115 yards rushing on 18 carries.
When Oakland Mills (0-8, 0-6) got the ball, quarterback T.J. Rembert's pitch eluded running back Keion Reames on the first play, and Long Reach's Phil Niles fell on the ball to give the Lightning the victory in the school's first overtime game.
After the recovery, the Lightning players stormed the field and piled on Niles near the Scorpions bench. This evidently didn't sit well with several Oakland Mills players and fans who raced on to the field.
For five minutes, there were more than 200 people on the field. The altercations moved from the Oakland Mills side of the field to the visitors' side and involved heated exchanges, orally and physically, between coaches, players and spectators.
The Howard County Police, who had called in reinforcements to restore order, escorted the visiting Long Reach players to their buses. There, another brief altercation began between several players and fans from both teams before order was restored and the buses left.
Even after that, several exchanges occurred between fans.
Oakland Mills coach Ken Hovett blamed the Long Reach coaching staff for the melee.
"Their players and coaches were celebrating in front of our bench. Those coaches showed no control over their team. They lost control over the situation," Hovett said.
Long Reach coach Pete Hughes saw things differently.
"Our kids were excited [about winning] and ran on to the field and celebrated. They didn't taunt or belittle anyone. I tried to get them to the 50 [yard line for the handshake], but before I could, all hell broke loose.
"We played here last year and lost on a last-second interception right in front of our bench," said Hughes. "Their players celebrated in front of our bench, and one of their coaches even grabbed his crotch and taunted our players. Nothing like this happened, though.
"What happened today was not intended, and our coaching staff moved our players across the field towards our bench. They followed us all the way across the field. We have the incident on videotape, but we were not the ones who lost control," Hughes said.
The ugliness marred what was a well-played game by both teams.
With Long Reach leading 14-7, the Scorpions put together an eight-play, 65-yard drive to tie the score with 1: 46 left in the third quarter.
Oakland Mills had the best chances to score in the fourth quarter.
The Scorpions drove from the Long Reach 44 to the 5, before a 23-yard field-goal attempt by Robert Roche sailed wide to the right on fourth down.
After holding the Lightning on the next series, an errant snap on a Long Reach punt with 1: 36 left gave the Scorpions a first down at the Long Reach 24. The Lightning defense tightened, and the Scorpions gained only 1 yard in four plays.
That set up the overtime.
"We had the wrong play called in the huddle on the fumble," said Hovett, whose team had to forfeit five victories last week due to the use of an ineligible player. "We were trying to play hard and finish the season strong."
Harris says he'll try to concentrate more on the beauty than the ugliness.
"We're gonna focus on the win, and not the other stuff. When emotions are high, sometimes bad things happen. I'm not gonna let that take away from the victory."