When Clarksburg's 5'7'' inch QB/CB Andrew Veith returned a Seneca Valley interception 55-yards for a touchdown with five seconds remaining in the game, the improbable occurred. A football program in its formative years of competition defeated one of Maryland’s legendary high school football teams, 15-8.
The Seneca Valley Screaming Eagles football program has won 10 Maryland State Football Championships in the school's 35-year history. The Germantown, Maryland school is nationally recognized for accomplishments few programs can match.
The Clarksburg Coyotes, in only their fourth season of existence, made the jump to the Maryland 3A division in 2009.
Clarksburg has had a great deal of success at the 2A level compiling a 22-2 record the last two seasons. With bottle removed, the infancy stage of the Coyotes' football program was officially over when they were pitted against Seneca Valley to open their 2009 football season.
Separated by three miles, students from both schools grew up playing youth football with and against each other.
"I've been preparing for this game for five years," one Clarksburg player was overheard saying prior to pre-game warm-ups.
Many familiar with Montgomery County, Maryland football, expected the giant—Seneca Valley—to rudely welcome their newly anointed rival—Clarksburg—to 3A football. And for the better part of three-and-half quarters the Screaming Eagles did just that.
Clarksburg did everything they could to hand the victory to Seneca Valley. Given the double-digit penalties, four fumbles, three interceptions, and dropped passes, the Coyotes appeared to be overwhelmed by playing on the big stage—an estimated 4,300 fans observed the game—against a big-time opponent.
“We have them where we want them,” Coyote coach Larry Hurd shouted to his team at halftime. Hurd refused to allow his players to quit and he knew his squad was fortunate to be in the game, facing an 8-0 deficit at the break.
But the Coyotes' nervous play continued well into the third quarter as it appeared “David’s” psyche was no match for “Goliath’s” reputation.
The contest was difficult to watch for any football fan. Marred by nearly 30 penalty flags and six turnovers, the game had no flow. Whenever Seneca Valley or Clarksburg appeared ready to establish a sustainable drive, a yellow flag would inevitably appear.
But like a well-written Hollywood movie script, slowly building a storyline that leads to a memorable climatic ending, the balance of the game changed in the final six minutes.
When Clarksburg’s Moses Anoh blocked a Seneca Valley punt, giving the Coyotes the ball deep in Seneca territory, there was a sense this game would inevitably have a dramatic ending.
Senior QB Andrew Veith would score on a one-yard sneak five plays later, and Sam Collins capped the drive with a two-point conversion on a reverse run to pull the Coyotes even at eight.
Veith was forced to play quarterback for the first time in his life as a result of an ankle injury to starter Tyler Stevens, which Stevens suffered two weeks earlier in a scrimmage against Magruder.
Rather than turning to one of his underclassmen to orchestrate the offense in Stevens' absence, Coach Hurd opted to convert his veteran athletic flanker to quarterback.
“He will be the best athlete on the field tonight. I have to put the ball in his hands,” Hurd said with complete confidence prior to the game.
The storybook ending nearly vanished as quickly as it surfaced, when Seneca Valley was forced to punt with three minutes remaining in the game.
Clarksburg started with excellent field position in Seneca territory. After driving the team down to the Seneca 15-yard line with under a minute remaining, Veith short-armed an out pattern that was intercepted by Seneca Valley.
With 30 seconds remaining in the game, Seneca Valley desperately tried to score from deep within their own territory rather than play for overtime.
After well-executed middle screen picked up nearly 20 yards, and the ball now sitting on their own 40-yard line, Seneca dared to attempt one last pass play with 13 seconds remaining on the clock.
Quarterback Max Nicholson tried to connect with his receiver just past mid-field. The Seneca receiver cut to the sidelines but Nicholson threw the ball to inside.
Veith, doubling as a cornerback, stood there waiting. The pass hit him right in the chest, and down the sideline he sprinted untouched. The script couldn’t have been written any better as Veith took the interception back for a 55-yard game winning touchdown with five seconds remaining.
The diminutive Veith and his Coyote clan had slung the sling-shot that nailed Goliath right between the eyes.
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