Josh Woods

Josh Woods (McDonogh) was named Player of the Game for Team Maryland in its 31-24 win over Pennsylvania in the Big 33 Football Classic at Hersheypark Stadium. (Courtesy of McDonogh School / June 14, 2014)

HERSHEY, PA -- Maryland first played in the Big 33 Football Classic in 1985, but as players stood alongside the 45-yard line at Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday evening for the starting lineups, the scene was relatively new.

Though Maryland was dominated last year during its first appearance in the high school all-star game since 1992, it looked to finally prove that it could compete in an environment where it has historically struggled. Maryland beat Pennsylvania only twice during the last Big 33 series, which lasted eight years.

After the end of four quarters, Maryland had already proved that much. The two teams were tied at the end of regulation, and a touchdown pass to Reggie White Jr. (Milford Mill) in double overtime — the first two-overtime game in Big 33 history — led to a 31-24 win.

Pennsylvania scored 28 unanswered points at the start of last year's game. This time, Maryland grabbed the momentum early, taking a 24-0 lead before Pennsylvania could get on the board. But Pennsylvania clawed back to force the game into overtime.

Two University of Maryland commits, cornerback Josh Woods (McDonogh) and quarterback Antwaine Carter, and Towson-bound running back Marquel Dickerson had a big impact for Maryland during their scoring surge.

Dickerson had a rushing touchdown on Maryland's second drive to take the early lead. After Carter connected with running back Kevin Joppy for another touchdown, Woods ran back an interception to make it 24-0. The play caused the away fans to burst in cheers.

Suddenly, it looked like Maryland belonged.

"I think the coaches definitely prepared themselves and us for this game and really put us in the best position to make the best plays," said Woods, who had three interceptions and was named Player of the Game.

Woods, an All-Metro and All-State cornerback, said he played as if he had something to prove. Before the game, some of Maryland's trainers called the players "soft."

Entering the game, Maryland had lost seven of the past nine times in the Big 33, and two of its most recent defeats were by more than 30 points.

"Coming off the history, Maryland has been losing a lot," Dickerson said. "But we wanted to come out and make history tonight."

Maryland players flooded onto the field after an interception from linebacker Rasheed Gillis in double overtime secured their first Big 33 victory since 1991.

Getting an historic victory in a competition where Maryland has often been on the losing side was the most satisfying part of the night.

“I just wanted to come out and have fun and get this ‘W’ for Maryland, honestly,” Woods said.   

ppierrelouis@baltsun.com

twitter.com/PaulPierreLouis