Last week Rockville High School junior quarterback Chuck Reese flirted with the 500 yard passing mark.
Friday night against Rockville, Thomas S. Wootton's junior signal caller, Sam Ellis, surpassed it.
Ellis threw for a 547 yards unofficially and six touchdowns as the Patriots overcame an early 24-6 deficit to defeat Reese and the Rams, 58-40.
“Natural born leader,” Patriots coach Tyree Spinner said after watching Ellis rally the Patriots. “Undersized as a quarterback. Not perfect technique according to the books, but the heart of a lion.”
Trevon Diggs (10 catches for 292 yards) caught four touchdowns from Ellis as Wootton scored 38 consecutive points after falling behind.
“I had fun out there,” Ellis said. “My receivers were running great. The (offensive) line did a good job blocking. It was a team win.”
Asked about possibly setting a state record, he said, “It's a great accomplishment. Obviously, I'm very proud of it, but I couldn't have done it without my team.”
Wootton (5-4) kept its playoff chances alive entering the final week of the regular season while the Rams hopes ended as they fell to 5-4.
Ellis completed 22 of 36 passes and was intercepted once. Eight of his completions went for more than 25 yards and three for more than 50.
“He worked hard in the offseason improving his arm strength and shoulder stability so his balls are traveling a lot further now,” Spinner said.
Jibri Woods added six catches for 172 yards, including 39 and 75-yards touchdowns. Diggs scored on a 32-yarder in the first half, a 90-yarder on Wootton's first play from scrimmage of the second half, a 14-yard fade route, and a 44-yarder.
“We played as hard as we could,” Rams coach Seth Kenton said. “We don't have the speed that they do and that was pretty obvious.”
Reese, coming off a 480-yard performance against Magruder, completed 21 of 33 attempts for 192 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Rockville running back Chris Maldonado rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns before leaving late in the first half with an apparent leg injury.
Early on it looked like Wootton might never stop Reese and Maldonado as the Rams scored on their first three possession and led 24-6 in the second quarter.
“We were well aware that Rockville was a very good offensive team, a very well coached team in general, so we knew that they were going to come out fast,” Spinner said. “We just had to sustain a few blows and keep working at it.”
The Patriots stiffened on defense, getting three straight stops and took the lead as the first half was winding down when Woods caught a pass at midfield and eluded the final tackler for a 75-yard touchdown.
“When we get on a roll it's hard to stop,” Kenton said. “But once we do stop — the offense has a few three-and-outs and no time goes off the clock and the defense is back on the field — we start to wear ourselves out, which is the opposite of what we're trying to do.”
Leading 27-24 to open the second half, Wootton forced a punt and, on the first play, Diggs got behind his defender on the left sideline and caught an Ellis pass in stride on the way to pay dirt.
“It's good chemistry,” Ellis said of Diggs. “I find him on the field all the time. He's a great guy to be throwing the ball to. Makes my job easier.”
The Patriots eventually built the lead to 44-24 before Rockville rallied.
A pair of Rams' touchdowns and two-point conversions sandwiched around a Patriot score made it 51-40 with 7:49 left in the game.
Rockville got the ball with 6:36 left, but four plays later Reese was intercepted by Bryan Castillo, who returned the pick 45 yards for the clincher.
Wootton 58, Rockville 40
Wootton (5-4) 6 21 17 14 - 58
Rockville (5-4) 16 8 0 16 - 40
R – Anthony Albert 5-yard pass from Chuck Reese (Louison Biama pass from Chuck Reese)
W – Trevon Diggs 32-yard pass from Sam Ellis (pass failed)
R – Chris Moldonado 10-yard run (Joey Cornwell pass from Chuck Reese)
R – Chris Moldonado 2-yard run (Anthony Albert pass from Chuck Reese)
W – Bryan Castillo 3-yard run (pass failed)
W – Jibri Woods 39-yard pass from Sam Ellis (Eric Shumacher kick)
W – Jibri Woods 75-yard pass from Sam Ellis (Daniel Quackenbush pass from Sam Ellis)
W – Trevon Diggs 90-yard pass from Sam Ellis (Eric Shumacher kick)
W – Trevon Diggs 14-yard pass from Sam Ellis (Eric Shumacher kick)
W – Eric Shumacher 39-yard field goal
R – Spencer Brigman 4-yard pass from Chuck Reese (Louison Biama pass from Chuck Reese)
W – Trevon Diggs 44-yard pass from Sam Ellis (Eric Shumacher kick)
R – Spencer Brigman 5-yard pass from Chuck Reese (Louison Biama pass from Chuck Reese)
W – Bryan Castillo 45-yard interception return (Eric Shumacher kick)
Wootton – Jibri Woods 8-40, Sam Ellis 5-28, Bryan Castillo 2-24, Jake Koplan 1-11.
Rockville – Anthony Albert 15-92, Chris Moldonado 11-90, Spencer Brigman 1-12.
Wootton – Sam Ellis 22-36-547-1
Rockville – Chuck Reese 21-33-192-2
Wootton – Trevon Diggs 10-292, Jibri Woods 6-171, Mas Etocke 3-33 Kwame Frimpong 2-42, Austin Schoenfeld 1-9.
Rockville – Spencer Brigman 6-59, Louison Biama 5-49, Anthony Albert 4-17, Joey Cornwell 3-39, Tony Emeche 2-16, Fon Nanudone 1-12.