Needing a win in Friday's night's regular-season closer to hook a spot in the upcoming 3A North Region football playoffs, the Aberdeen Eagles could not have picked a worse setting to try and earn that victory, as they had to play an away game with the Fallston Cougars, who were itching to end the regular season with a perfect 10-0 mark.
The Eagles, however, managed to spoil Fallston's flawless season and earn a post-season berth by holding on to beat the Cougars, 21-14.
Aberdeen's first drive looked promising but ended badly, as quarterback Kenny Faulcon was picked off in the Fallston end zone by Cougar defensive back Bryan Jirsa.
Fallston's ensuing drive ended with a fumble that Aberdeen's Brenton Barnes recovered. The Eagles made their hosts pay for coughing the ball up, as Faulcon scored three plays later on a wild, 28-yard scramble. Austin Bonsall missed his extra-point kick, leaving the Eagles ahead 6-0, where they would stay through the close of the first quarter.
After Fallston was forced to punt on its first possession of the second quarter, Aberdeen took the ball on its own 37-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage, Faulcon threw the ball over the middle for receiver Chavez Cheatham, who was running a slant play. Cheatham quickly got past the Fallston secondary and streaked in for a 63-yard touchdown reception.
Faulcon hit Maurice Harris with a pass on the two-point conversion play, giving Aberdeen a 14-0 advantage.
Following a touchback on Aberdeen's kickoff, the Cougars started on their own 20 and proceeded to march to the Eagles' goal line, where Fallston back Mark Badger muscled into the end zone from inside the one yard line for his team's first touchdown. John Eichelberger nailed the point-after kick to cut Aberdeen's lead in half at 14-7.
The two squads had one more possession apiece before the break, but failed to score, leaving the Eagles holding a seven-point advantage at half-time.
Five minutes into the third quarter, the Eagles capped a 77-yard drive when Bonsall raced across the Fallston goal line from nine yards out for a touchdown. Bonsall kicked his extra-point attempt through the uprights, giving the Eagles what would be their final tally of the evening and putting Aberdeen up 21-7.
With eight minutes to go in the final quarter, Fallston quarterback John Hetterman hit Ryan Umpleby with a 77-yard touchdown toss. Eichelberger kicked the extra point, leaving Fallston seven points back at 21-14.
Following an Aberdeen punt, Fallston got the ball back on its own 22 with just over three minutes left, but turned the ball over on downs after Hetterman's long pass attempt on fourth-and-6 was incomplete.
The Cougars got one last possession with under 15 seconds left, but Quintel Kelly intercepted a Hetterman pass to seal the victory.
With the win, Aberdeen ended its regular season 8-2 and moves on to play in the 3A North regional tournament. Fallston, which had already clinched a spot in the 2A East playoffs, wraps up its 2011 regular season campaign at 9-1.
Patterson Mill playoff bound
Patterson Mill solidified its playoff position Friday night with a 39-20 victory over the visiting Rising Sun Tigers.
The win, which puts the Huskies in line to play top-seeded Kent Island in the Class 2A East regional tournament, moved Patterson Mill to 9-1 on the year, with the Huskies' only loss coming to the undefeated Perryville squad.
Leading the way for the Huskies in Friday's win was running back Deonte Alston, who racked up 190 yards and two touchdowns on 19 rushing attempts. On the other side of the ball, Alston pulled down a pair of interceptions.
Huskies quarterback Luke Depasquale completed 14 of 20 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
Justin Palmer had four receptions for 42 yards and one touchdown, while teammate Ryan Jacobs reeled in five passes for a team-best 83 receiving yards. Mike Reed had 42 yards on two receptions.