IT STINKS to believe a momentary lapse in judgement can ruin perfection. But it can - and it did for a high school quarterback from Boston.

Cathedral High quarterback Matthew Owens, who led his team to an undefeated season and to its first state championship, found a hole in the waning moments of the game and rumbled 40 yards to put his team up, 21-16, in what looked to give Cathedral its first 4A state title in program history.

On Owens' 18th birthday nonetheless.

However, when Owens raised his left arm in glory on the way to the end zone, it drew a flag for excessive celebration.

It wasn't just a dead ball foul, it nullified the touchdown.

While it appears the official may have taken his job and the gesture way too seriously, he was just following a Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association sportsmanship rule enacted this season that bans any celebratory or taunting behavior by someone scoring a touchdown.

Owens' dad Kenneth sees it differently.

"He raised his hand because he knew was going to the pinnacle," Kenneth told the Boston Herald. "There was nothing dishonorable about the play. There was no doubt it was a touchdown. He gets 20 yards in - and he's not thinking about the rule - and he just raised his hand."

As a result, Blue Hills Regional Technical School took the trophy with a 16-14 win and left Owens seething.

According to Paul Wetzel, a spokesman for the MIAA, the game is over, official and highly unlikely the result will be overturned.

"Look, it's an unfortunate situation," Wetzel said. "[But] we have no reason to believe a mistake was made in this case."

Reunite with 'The Rifle'

On Dec. 28, former Flyers great Reggie Leach will be signing autgraphs at Pro League Authentics (137 S. 13th St.). Additionally, the store will have an electronic petition for Flyers fans to sign in efforts to get the 1976 NHL MVP enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

For more info, contact the Center City location (215-566-2511).