FSMA wins OT thriller to improve to 3-0

CAMDEN — When Zakk Camilli faked the handoff and cut upfield, the chances of anybody stopping him looked pretty slim.

After all, the Conrad quarterback needed only a yard and a half to score the winning two-point conversion.

But First State Military safety Treyvon McCray got Camilli around his legs and then teammate Amir Beverly joined in on the tackle.

And when Camilli’s body fell to the turf, the football he was holding landed just a precious few inches short of the goal line.

In the next moment, the Bulldogs were streaming across the field to celebrate their thrilling 29-28 overtime victory over the Red Wolves on Friday afternoon at Kent County’s Kesselring Turf Field.

After going 0-9 in its first varsity season a year ago, FSMA is now 3-0 overall, 1-0 in the Diamond State Conference. But this was the Bulldogs’ most exciting and — probably biggest — victory yet against a Conrad squad that dumped them, 50-6, last season.

That final stop made all the difference.

Trailing 29-28, the Red Wolves (1-2) were lined up to kick the tying PAT when First State jumped offsides. With the ball now at the one and half yard line, Conrad decided to go for the win.

“What was going through my head was, ‘We’ve got to stop them,’” said Beverly, a linebacker. “They’d been doing it (the option run) all game so we started to catch on. … To be honest, I was pretty nervous. But we got there, we stopped them. We did what what we had to do.”

“Our backs were against the wall,” said FSMA coach Blair Newman. “The kids stepped up big.

“I was on edge,” he said about waiting for the final call. “From the sideline it looked like it could go either way. It fell in our favor.”

“Joy,” is what McCray said he felt when he realized they’d made the stop. “I thought we lost it for a second. But we’ve got to believe. We got the job done.”

Just a few minutes earlier, it looked like the Bulldogs might have let a big win slip through their fingers.

Trailing 22-14, the Red Wolves drove 75 yards in 13 plays to score with 20.6 seconds left in regulation. Freshman Ja’Tier Berkley-Osborne somehow found himself all by himself and Camilli hit him for a 26-yard touchdown pass.

But the real back-breaking play came on the two-point conversion. Berkley-Osborne started right on a sweep and looked to be completely surrounded by a pair of FSMA defenders well behind the line.

Berkley-Osborne, however, managed to break free and came all the way back to the left pylon to score the two-point conversion and tie the contest at 22-22.

Getting the ball first in OT, the Bulldogs gained nothing on their two plays.

On the next play, though, FSMA ran a reverse to McCray. The senior pulled up and lobbed a wobbly pass that found Terrence Reid, who made a sprawling catch just inside the goal line.

Freshman Dominic Martin booted his third PAT kick for what turned out to be the winning point.

It took Conrad just two running plays to reach the end zone on its OT possession and set up the dramatic finish.

Being in on the game-deciding tackle capped off a big day for McCray, a Dover resident.

He also pulled in a 74-yard TD pass from quarterback Jared Deppish (8-for-14, 119 yards) on the Bulldogs’ first possession, scored on an 11-yard run just before halftime and then added the two-point conversion after fielding a high snap while holding on the PAT kick.

The two points gave the Bulldogs a 15-14 halftime lead.

“It really showed us what kind of team we are,” said McCray, who had five catches for 114 yards. “I’m just happy that we got the win. We all have faith in each other.”

First State’s other touchdown came when Enyle Ingram (19 carries-88 yards) scored an eight-yard run to give the Bulldogs their 22-14 advantage with 3:33 remaining in the third quarter.

Maybe the Bulldogs should have known it was going to be their day on a play that ended the first half.

The half ended when Conrad’s Camilli found receiver Thomas Wunder on a 30-yard pass around the goal line. But in making the juggling reception, Wunder landed no more than a foot or two outside the end zone as the half ended.

After struggling through a winless season last fall, First State will take it.

“Obviously our last two wins were great,” said Newman. “But each one’s special. You don’t know when it’s going to be your last. Our kids fought hard the whole game. For our kids, it’s the first time they’ve gone overtime. We just kept playing.

“I’ve been trying to tell them, just play to the last whistle. Today we did and it worked out in our favor.”

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

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