BETHESDA – The visiting Episcopal Maroon fell to the home team Landon Bears in a heartbreaking last-second loss in double overtime Saturday at William H. Triplett Field, 27-26.
Even though Episcopal trailed for most of the afternoon, junior kicker Paul Pivirotto’s successful 20-yard field goal tied the game with just over a minute left to play.
Episcopal overcame a 14-point first half deficit and kept the Bears from sailing to an easy victory on homecoming day. Landon alumni were on hand to watch their team come out swinging from the very first whistle. The Bears dominated the time of possession in the first half and capped off their first possession with a nine-yard touchdown by wide receiver Jelani Machen.
A long punt set the Maroon up back in their own territory a few plays later. A Landon defender tipped senior quarterback Seth Agwunobi’s pass and the ball landed in Machen’s arms at the eight-yard line.
The Bears capitalized on the excellent field position when quarterback John Geppert tiptoed into the end zone for a one-yard score.
Running back Perris Jones made sure the Maroon didn’t dig themselves a hole they couldn’t climb out of. The senior burst loose on first-and-ten at the 20-yard line and turned on the jets. Jones spun away from defenders and zig-zagged down the field en route to an 80-yard touchdown that silenced the Landon fans in attendance.
Both teams strung together a series of three-and-outs before Landon senior kicker Davis Walker kicked a 30-yard field goal to extend the Bears’ lead to start the fourth quarter.
The Maroon answered back once again when tight end Ricky Miezan twisted away from a defender and sped toward the end zone. Miezan held the ball aloft as he danced into the paint for a 35-yard score.
Episcopal won the coin toss and chose to play defense during the first overtime period. According to overtime rules, each team started at the 25-yard line. Both teams scored field goals on their respective possessions and the game went to double overtime.
The Bears defense drove the Maroon offense backward until Agwunobi connected with wide receiver Barry Curtis. Curtis raced down the left sideline for the go-ahead touchdown and Episcopal’s first lead of the game.
However, Pivirotto’s extra point clanged on the left upright and bounced out. That extra point ended up haunting the Maroon.
Even though the Episcopal defense forced a fourth down, Geppert wouldn’t be denied. The senior kept the ball himself and ran through a big hole his offensive line created. Walker’s extra point was successful and the Landon fans began to pour onto the field to celebrate their win.
In stark contrast, a somber quiet hung over the Episcopal sideline, with several players visibly upset. Others consoled their teammates, pulling them to their feet and embracing them.
Episcopal head coach Panos Voulgaris was a man of few words.
“I’m proud of the way that we fought until the end,” he said. “Landon’s a good team.”
Meanwhile, Landon head coach Paul Padalino was all smiles after his team’s last-minute victory.
“We control our own destiny and as long as we keep winning football games, we’ll have a share of the title. That’s what we’re playing for,” he said. “The regular season champions will be IAC champions and we’re tied for first place right now.”
The Landon Bears next take on the St. Albans Bulldogs in Washington D.C. on Nov. 11.
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