SALISBURY — There’s roller coasters, and then there’s the ride Cambridge-South Dorchester High’s football team took Friday night, Sept. 27.
Quarterback John Henry thought he had lost the game when he was intercepted in the end zone with 2 minutes, 13 seconds remaining.
Moments later, Henry thought he had won it, when he bounced, churned and spun off seemingly half Wicomico’s defense before falling into the end zone to cap one of the longest 2-yard touchdown runs in Cambridge-SD’s storied history.
Viking players, coaches and fans then had to endure another minute of belly drops and hairpin-like turns before Malik Ennals and Darrien Gabriel finally hauled down Ronnie Satchell 24 yards shy of the goal line to seal a 32-28 come-from-behind victory at Wicomico County Stadium’s Charlie Berry Field.
“Probably one of the greatest games I’ve ever played in,” Henry said after Cambridge-SD’s third straight victory.
It certainly had to be one of the most emotional.
Down 14-0 after one quarter, Cambridge-SD (3-1) rallied to take a 15-14 halftime lead. That advantage was extended to 18-14 with 8:48 left in the third quarter, when James Frazier drilled a 27-yard field goal.
The lead would be swapped three times over the next 14 minutes of game clock, the third coming with 4:07 remaining, when Indians quarterback Jordan Matthews scored on an 8-yard run that ended with his helmet flying off via a goal-line collision. Jacob Harbinson’s extra-point boot gave Wicomico a 28-25 lead.
Khalik Beasley’s 35-yard return on the ensuing kickoff put the Vikings on the Wi-Hi 45-yard line with 3:59 left. Three consecutive runs moved the ball to the Indians’ 34, where on first down Henry (7 of 17, 113 yards, two touchdowns) tried hitting a streaking Logan Middleton down the middle of the field. But Matthews, who had broken up three earlier pass plays, made a sparkling over-the-shoulder interception, giving Wicomico the ball on its 25.
On the very next play, Matthews was looking toward his sideline when the snap bounced off him and was recovered by Cambridge-SD at the 20.
Beasley (10 carries, 66 yards) carried to the 5 for first-and-goal, then slammed into the right side of the line, and fought his way to the 2.
On second down, Henry shuffled right and cut left, went shoulder to shoulder with Satchell at the 4-yard line, bounced off and slipped inside Jaquan Bowes. The junior quarterback then lowered shoulders, slammed into two defenders at the goal line, managed to keep upright before falling into the end zone on his head for the touchdown. Frazier’s extra-point kick made it 32-28 with 1:02 left.
“I threw an interception and I got down on myself,” Henry said. “And then my boys came back and they always have my back. They got the fumble recovery and we went all the way down to like the two. And my coach was like, ‘You’re going to take the ball. This is yours. Come on do it.’
“The hole was closed,” Henry continued. “I went outside. I bounced off one guy and I told myself not to stop. Just keep going; keep going until I score. And I spun off the other guy, stepped on one dude and ended up falling in the end zone.”
“Within seconds, John Henry goes from feeling like he lost the game with the interception to running in the winning score,” Cambridge-SD head coach Gaven Parker said. “It was a designed run. He went way too wide. He did a phenomenal job just putting his shoulder down and finishing the thing.”
The drama wasn’t finished though.
Wicomico’s Shawnez Adams fell on the ensuing kickoff at the Indians’ 40. On second down, Matthews launched a pass about 65 yards that was too long for an uncovered Joshua Shockley. Matthews threw incomplete on third down, but Cambridge-SD was called for roughing the passer, giving Wicomico (1-3) a first down at the 50 with 9.7 seconds left.
Matthews was hit just at he got off his next pass, which fell incomplete. But the Vikings were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, pushing the ball to Cambridge-SD’s 35. Matthews was injured and helped off the field on the play. Satchell took the next snap, scrambled, then weaved his way through traffic before Ennals and Gabriel dragged him down at the 24, ending the game.
“It’s just a phenomenal job by him and all the kids,” Parker said of Henry and his team. “We got touches to a lot of different guys tonight. Guys knew that the game was on the line and they just wanted to be part of it. That’s just a great feeling to see.”
Parker didn’t exactly like what he was seeing early, as Harris (8-83) scored on touchdown runs of 4 and 43 yards, and Harbinson converted both point-after kicks for a 14-0 Wicomico lead with 23.6 seconds left in the first quarter.
“They’ve got great athletes that come out big, fast and strong,” Parker said of Wicomico. “And you’ve just got to withstand that first punch. And it’s always a doozy. I mean they throw a Hail Mary. You’ve just got to sit there and you’ve just got to continue to do your job and fight through that. Once you get into the game we find we match up pretty well with them. But you’ve got to withstand that first punch. And we did.”
The Indians looked ready to stretch their lead when Matthews, who had 10 carries for 48 yards and completed 10 of 17 for 143 yards, broke loose for a 24-yard gain down to the Viking 18. But on the next play, Cambridge-SD’s Jay’zon Roberts intercepted Matthews’ throw across the middle.
The Vikings drove from their 10 to the Wi-Hi 25, where Henry connected with Middleton for a 25-yard touchdown pass. Because Frazier was playing for Cambridge-SD’s soccer team against Kent Island and wouldn’t show up until later, the Vikings opted to go for two, with Henry hitting Davon Linder with a pass the trimmed Wi-Hi’s lead to 14-8 with 6:07 left in the half.
The Indians’ next possession ended with a mishandled pitch that was recovered by Gabriel on the Viking 34. Eleven plays, and two big penalties against Wi-Hi later, Ennals scored on a 5-yard run. A suited up Frazier hammered the PAT through to give Cambridge-SD a 15-14 lead with 18.9 seconds left in the first half.
Frazier’s 27-yard field goal to cap Cambridge-SD’s first drive of the second half extended the lead to 18-14.
Wicomico answered on its first possession of the third quarter, as Matthews scored on a 2-yard run and Harbinson hit the extra point kick to make it 21-18.
It remained that way until 8 seconds into the third quarter, as Henry connected with Middleton for a 31-yard touchdown pass that capped a 62-yard scoring march. Frazier’s extra point made it 25-21.
The game again turned into a defensive struggle, until Matthews’ 8-yard scoring run and Harbinson’s PAT nudged the Indians back in front with 4:07 to go.
Wicomico has lost three straight since winning its season opener against Queen Anne’s County.