Gilman quarterback Ambrose Wooden and Mount St. Joseph running back Keon Lattimore looked exhausted after yesterday's game, but slowly trudged to midfield for an embrace.
The pair stood there for several minutes, laughing and expressing their respect for each other's talents. Wooden and Lattimore are seniors and had done battle before, but neither had experienced anything like this.
The pair combined for nine touchdowns as No. 1 Gilman and No. 7 Mount St. Joseph, the host school, slugged it out for nearly three hours in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference football game.
Lattimore ran for three touchdowns and scored on a kickoff return for the host Gaels. But Wooden threw for three touchdowns, ran for two more and finished with 412 yards of total offense. His final touchdown, on a 22-yard run with 1:14 left, gave Gilman a wild 48-45 victory.
The teams combined for 992 yards of total offense -- Gilman had 538 and Mount St. Joseph 454 -- in producing the 93 points. Gilman (5-0 overall, 1-0 league) used the talents of Wooden to take a 28-10 first-half lead and then came back three times in the second half after Mount St. Joe (3-2, 0-1) took leads.
Wooden completed 12 of 18 passes for 245 yards and the three touchdowns, and ran for 167 yards and the two scores. He ran for a 65-yard touchdown on the game's first play from scrimmage and never looked back.
Lattimore, the brother of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, had seven catches for 102 yards, many of them flashy and some of which included slick runs through a Gilman defense that had seemed impenetrable this year. He also ran for 55 yards. He had scoring runs of 1, 6 and 19 yards.
In addition, his 70-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter sparked a 21-point run that gave the Gaels a 31-28 third-quarter lead. But the game was an exhibition in counterpunching -- whenever one team made a big play, the other answered.
"We've always been going at each other," Wooden said. "I know he's going to come at me, and he knows I'm going to come at him. They tested us today, and I like these type of games."
Despite the loss, Lattimore wore a big smile while talking with Wooden after the game. The two players have loved their matchups, though this one was especially memorable.
"We've been doing this for four years," Lattimore said. "I learned [a lot] today, but most of all I learned never to give up. Just keep going, just keep trying and executing."
The two were right in the middle of the game's final two scoring plays. Lattimore scored on a 6-yard run with 3:40 left to help Mount St. Joe take a 45-41 lead. He burst through the middle, but defensive back Wooden stood him up at the goal line. However, Lattimore kept moving his legs and finally made it into the end zone.
But Wooden had the final say. On the following drive, he completed two passes and had an 18-yard run that put the Greyhounds in scoring position at the Mount St. Joe 22.
After two incompletions, Wooden went to the right on a bootleg, turned the corner and took off. Lattimore hit him near the goal line, but Wooden knocked over the pylon for the game-winning score.
Gilman then had to hold off Mount St. Joe quarterback Nick Tanis, who torched the Greyhounds' defense for 363 yards. Tanis twice got the Gaels into opposition territory in the final minute, but interceptions by Nathan Hummel and Anthony Triplin ended the drives.
"I think St. Joe was just magnificent," said Gilman coach Biff Poggi. "I thought they outplayed us. I thought they outcoached us. We've never given up 45 points since I've [been here]."