With one swing of his leg, Herrison Ambe went from virtually unknown to the most popular kid in school.
Ambe—who is also a starting forward on Roosevelt’s varsity soccer team—said he joined the football team three weeks ago and had never attempted a field goal in a game before. He practices with the soccer team during the week, and only joins the football team on game days.
“I just thought I was on the team,” Ambe said. “I didn’t know it was ever going to come to a point that I’d have to kick a field goal in a rivalry game, or whatever else is going on.”
Ambe isn’t listed on Roosevelt’s roster, and a few of the team’s coaches weren’t even sure of his name after the game, with one calling him, “Soccer Dude,” and another simply referring to him as, “No. 35.”
Still, Roosevelt coach Tom Green said he had no qualms about sending his rookie kicker out to decide a game against his team’s nemesis.
Green said that he intentionally called a run—a six-yard gain by junior Wayne Cummings—to put the ball in the middle of the field because he felt the Raiders were already in field goal range, and Wise then called a timeout to get its personnel straight with 24 seconds remaining.
“That’s when I told the special teams coaches, ‘Get the PAT team ready,’” Green said. “I told them, ‘Regardless of what happens on this play, we’re kicking.’ … I didn’t even want to take the chance [of spiking the ball to stop the clock]. And then if we spiked it, he would have had time to get nervous.”
Ambe’s teammates didn’t have an issue with putting everything on his shoulders, either.
“I was like, ‘Let’s do it!’” said senior Tyrone Temoney. “We’re putting it in his hands, and that’s what we did, and now everybody’s happy. Trust me, we’re going to get him into this party we’re going to, too
The win snapped a five-game losing streak to the Pumas, who have eliminated the Raiders from the playoffs the past three seasons. It also came without the services of Maryland-bound senior starting quarterback Shawn Petty, who injured his left foot on the Raiders’ opening drive and didn’t return.
“He said that when he was throwing a ball, someone dove and hit his foot in the joint between his foot and his ankle, and he really couldn’t put pressure on it,” Green said. “I was hoping he could fight through it, and hopefully he’s OK and we’ll get him back soon.”
The Pumas also lost their star when James Madison University-bound senior running back Uriah Bethea suffered a left ankle injury on Wise’s final scoring drive. Bethea was dragging two tacklers at the end of a 26-yard run when one rolled up on his leg from behind. He was carried off the field by a Wise assistant coach.
The Raiders (3-0 overall, 2-0 against Prince George’s County 4A teams) led 19-6 in the fourth quarter before Wise rallied back to take a 22-20 lead with under two minutes remaining in the game on a 14-yard run by senior Andrew Thompson and a two-point conversion run by Franklin Porter.
“There was a sense of panic,” Temoney said, “but instead of saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I think we’re going to lose,’ I looked at my teammates and I said, ‘Keep y’all heads up and let’s get this ‘W.’ I mean, they did it in one drive, why couldn’t we do it in one drive? That’s what I was thinking, so that’s exactly what we did.”
Roosevelt quickly moved down the field with no timeouts and senior Tamlin Antoine at quarterback. He ran for an 18-yard gain, completed a 21-yard pass to Temoney, and ran for another seven yards to put the ball on the Wise 21-yard line. Cummings ran for six yards, and then Wise called timeout. Antoine then threw a short pass to Cummings, who picked up six yards to set the stage for Saturday’s unlikely hero.
“When I turned around and caught the ball, I was surprised when I saw the two men and I sort of stumbled,” Cummings said. “I knew I wasn’t going to score once I started to stumble, so tried to make sure I got on the ground and got off the field as soon as possible to give Herrison as much time as he needed.”
Ambe connected, ending the Raiders’ series of heartbreaks against Wise (2-1, 1-1).
“This means a whole lot,” Temoney said. “I mean, yeah, it’s only week three, but trust me, we’re going to go into the rest of these games ballin’, ’cause this right here was the hump that we always had to get over for the last five years. I told Coach Green before the game even started – I told him at the beginning of the week that we’re his class and we got him.”
The Raiders are at Oxon Hill next week, while the Pumas host Bowie.
NOTE: The game was featured as part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Great American Rivalry Series. Cummings was named MVP and received a medal, while the entire team was given hats and a trophy.