Rivalry week lived up to its billing. Two of the major games (City-Poly, Mcdonogh-Gilman) went down to the wire, and a third (Fort Hill-Allegany) was also close. And those are just some of the exciting matchups in the season's final regular season games.
Whitman 27, Churchill 24
The scenario was simple: If Whitman wins, they get a spot in the 4A West playoffs; it Churchill wins, then they earn the playoff berth. Winner takes all, loser goes home.
Thanks to Whitman's late charge and Churchill's collapse, its the Vikings (8-2) who are heading to the postseason and the Bulldogs who will be watching from their couches. Churchill, which looked like a cinch for the playoffs after starting 7-0, finished the season with three straight losses.
Churchill controlled the game early. Quarterback Alex Kantor scored on a 9-yard run and then, after Churchill tied the game, he led his team on back-to-back scoring drives. With the game tied at 7, Kantor (13 for 23 for 195 yards) hit receiver Matt Cole with a 20-yard strike. Cole then blocked a Whitman punt, setting up another scoring opportunity. But the drive stalled, and the Bulldogs settled for a 24-yard field goal to go up 17-7 right before halftime.
That's when Whitman broke out. On the ensuring kickoff, return man Rico Djidotor scampered 89 yards to pay dirt, giving his team all the momentum heading into the intermission. In the third quarter, Whitman running back Kevin Cecala scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard plunge.
But Churchill still had life. Kantor led his team downfield and then connected with Brandon Swepson for a 36-yard touchdown pass, putting the Bulldogs back on top, 24-21.
Whitman then put together the drive of the game. Using the majority of the fourth quarter clock, they went 11 plays and converted two fourth-down conversions on their way to the game-winning score. After the second fourth-down conversion, Whitman had the ball first-and-goal from the Churchill 2, Cecala (30 rushes, 107 yards, two touchdowns) capped the drive with a touchdown run, and the Whitman defense held from there.
Atholton 14, Glenelg 13
Atholton, which already clinched their first playoff berth since 2005, set what is believed to be a school record for victories with this 14-13 win over Glenelg. Atholton finished the regular season 9-1, tripling last year's victory total. Glenelg fell to 8-2, but is still headed for the postseason.
Neither team showed much offensive prowess early, with Glenelg scoring the only points in the first half on a Gage Trawick 22-yard touchdown pass. But in the third quarter the offenses started to move. Atholton struck first, scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run by Andrew King that tied the game at 7.
The game moved into the fourth quarter, and Glenelg seized the lead on a gutsy fourth-down play. With five minutes left and the ball at the Atholton 8-yard line, Glenelg forewent a field goal try. Instead, Trawick threw a pass to Shane Kellaher, who corralled it for the go-ahead score. But the extra point missed and Glenelg led 13-7.
With just four minutes left, Atholton took over. They proceeded to put together an 11-play, 65-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard King touchdown run. That tied the game at 13 before Brett Haas nailed the point-after attempt, giving Atholton a 14-13 lead. Glenelg had one last chance to score, but a Hail Mary attempt by Trawick with no time left fell incomplete.
Pikesville 35, Sparrows Point 28
Pikesville went 43 years without a Baltimore County 2A/1A title. The futility ended on Friday night, when the 7-2 Panthers defeated Sparrows Point (6-4). The two teams will meet again in the 1A North playoffs next week, but on this night Pikesville wasn't thinking about the postseason. They coveted their first county crown since 1966.
Thanks to Jeremy Downing (10 of 12 for 191 yards) and DeVohn Gilmore (four total touchdowns), they earned it. Gilmore started the game with two straight touchdown runs, one a 14 yarder and the second a 2-yard dive. Sparrows Point, however, answered with two straight touchdowns to tie the game. First, quarterback Ritchie Stankewiecz punched it in from 2 yards out, and then he hit receiver Derek Masters with a 52-yard bomb.
Pikesville bounced back right before halftime when Downing hit Gilmore on a 39-yard strike. The Panthers went up by two scores on another touchdown run, but once again Sparrows Point fought back. Running back Mike Harstock closed out the third quarter with a 13-yard scoring run before Masters opened the fourth with a 5-yard touchdown. But Gilmore's 10-yard touchdown run late in the game put Pikesville up for good.
Snow Hill 21, Stephen Decatur 14
Snow Hill trailed Decatur 14-7 at halftime, but two big second half plays led to 14 unanswered points and an Eagles (8-2) victory. At the start of the second half, Decatur (5-5) had to punt. Snow Hill's Keith Jackson received the kick then proceeded to dodge defenders all the way down the field. He broke out in the open and went 85 yards for the game-tying touchdown. It was the second big play for Jackson, who also had a 68-yard touchdown run in the first half.
Decatur, however, put together a solid drive on the ensuing possession, moving all the way down inside the red zone. Running back Delonte Tate got the carry and rumbled towards the goal line. But just as he was about to score a defender jarred the ball loose.
Snow Hill took over at their own 12-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Behind running back Deron Ames, they put together a 14-play, 88-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard Ames touchdown run. Snow Hill's defense did the rest, sealing the 21-14 victory.