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Case closes the door on Long Reach, 28-14


Wilde Lake cornerback A. J. Case said he has a thing about footballs in the air.

"I don't like for them to be completed," Case said.

He and his teammates did a good job of making sure Long Reach didn't complete many passes in yesterday's showdown of crosstown Columbia rivals.

Wilde Lake set a school record with five interceptions on the way to a 28-14 victory over No. 11 Long Reach (2-1 overall, 1-1 Howard County).

Case, also a running back, had the third of those five interceptions, and it led to Wilde Lake's first touchdown with 6:54 left in the second quarter. He scored it on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Hamp Fields.

Case also scored the final touchdown for Wilde Lake (3-0, 3-0) with 2:47 left in the game on a 96-yard run.

Coach Doug DuVall called the play during a timeout.

"They thought we were going inside," DuVall said. "We only needed two blocks. Grant Herdrich made the down block, and Shawn Frederick made the kick-out block."

Case carried 13 times for 134 yards.

"Long Reach is a good team and this was a war," Case said. "Our defense was prepared. This game was won on the practice field. I didn't know for sure which team would win, but I knew it would be a good game. This was the No. 1 all-time game for me."

DuVall echoed Case's sentiments.

"This was one of the great wins in our short history," DuVall said. "We don't have that old Wilde Lake swagger back yet, but this win was huge."

Wilde Lake running back Austen Merrills injured an arm during the game and had trouble holding the ball.

"That's why he fumbled three times [losing one]," DuVall said. "But he was running so well, I just told him to squeeze the ball hard."

Merrills carried 15 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

He carried four times for 26 yards on a 46-yard scoring drive that ended with 1:10 left in the first half. Merrills scored from the 4, and Fields kicked the extra point to make it 14-0.

Long Reach made a game of it by scoring on its first possession of the second half. The Lightning went 85 yards in seven plays, culminating in a 55-yard screen pass to Davon Gilmore. A two-point attempt failed making it 14-6.

An interception by Wilde Lake's Nick Ness early in the fourth quarter gave the Wildecats possession at the Long Reach 37. Merrills ran for a game-clinching touchdown on the next play.

Helped out by two personal foul penalties against Wilde Lake, Long Reach drove 64 yards to score on a halfback option from Jereme Scott to Brandon Goff with 3:41 left. Long Reach made the two-point conversion and trailed 21-14.

Wilde Lake expected an onside kick. Instead, Long Reach kicked long and pinned the Wildecats down at the 1-yard line.

Long Reach quarterback Trent Covington completed 3 of 11 passes for 81 yards and five interceptions. Two other passes were nearly intercepted, and he lost one fumble. Ryan Parham intercepted two of those passes. Alex Gould, Ness and Case had the others.

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