YORK - Kick a field goal to go into overtime, or run for it on fourth down and go for the win? Lafayette High coach Andy Linn left the decision to his players in the final seconds of their Bay Rivers District game against Tabb on Friday at Bailey Field and looked like a genius for doing so.
Schekel Wallace ran 5 yards untouched behind the blocking of Marquan Harris and Carlos Coronado on fourth-and-2 with 24 seconds remaining to give Lafayette a 37-33 come-from-behind win over Tabb. The Rams (6-1, 5-1 Bay Rivers) remained in a three-way tie for first place in the district with Smithfield and York by scoring two touchdowns in the final 5:03.
"I like to say that nobody is better than us in the fourth quarter," Linn said. "I think the kids showed that on those final drives.
"They felt like they had something going, so I let them choose whether to go for it or kick the field goal. To a man, they wanted to go for it."
Brandon Villanueva-Pernell's spectacular diving catch for a 28-yard gain was the key play of the winning 55-yard final drive.
The Rams trailed 33-23 after a dominant third quarter by Tabb (3-4, 3-3), which included touchdown runs of 11 and 12 yards by Jake Brown (15 carries, 104 yards). But the Rams stiffened defensively in the fourth quarter.
They held the Tigers to a three-and-out, then drove 59 yards, pulling to within 33-30 on a 6-yard touchdown run by Jahlil Green (23 carries, 176 yards) with 5:03 remaining. Lafayette then benefited from a close call to get the ball back with 2:33 to play.
With Tabb facing fourth-and-26 at its 23, a Lafayette player made contact with Tigers punter Dan Schiele, knocking him down. The official called running-into-the-punter, a 5-yard penalty and a replay of the down, rather than roughing-the-punter, which would've been 15 yards and an automatic first down for Tabb.
The wild finish followed a first half that was an offensive bonanza and began with three early touchdowns on four plays from scrimmage. Tabb struck first, taking a 6-0 lead on Schiele's 1-yard sneak that capped an 80-yard drive highlighted by Brown's 49-yard burst.
Lafayette retaliated two plays later, taking a 7-6 lead on Green's 58-yard touchdown run and Alex Webb's point-after. Tabb needed only one play to go back ahead, with Brent Hinson (18 carries, 152 yards) breaking a tackle en route to a 79-yard touchdown run. Schiele's two-point conversion run stretched the Tabb lead to 14-7
The Rams drove 64 yards on nine plays to knot the score at 14. Villanueva-Pernell scored the touchdown on a 20-yard pass from Brendan McGinty, beating Tabb defensive back Michael McGinley on a jump ball at the back of the end zone.
Green's 27-yard TD run gave Lafayette a 20-14 lead on the final play of the first quarter. Hinson tied the game up three minutes later with a 29-yard touchdown run.
Webb made a 24-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to give Lafayette a 23-20 lead. He probably had no complaints at not getting a second opportunity when the Rams opted for the game-winning TD run in the final seconds of regulation.
LAFAYETTE 37, TABB 33
Lafayette 20;3;0;14 - 37
Tabb 14;6;13;0 - 33
Tabb: Schiele 1 run (kick failed), 8:11
Laf: Green 58 run (Webb kick), 7:19
Tabb: Hinson 79 run (Schiele run), 6:59