The North Harford Hawks escaped from Fallston on Friday night with a 14-13, week-nine football victory, after they stopped the host Cougars on attempted a game-winning two-point conversion with 20 seconds left in regulation.
The 2012 renewal of the Battle for Northern Harford was just that, a battle that had the large crowd roaring from opening kickoff to final whistle, particularly in the game's final five minutes.
Trailing 14-7, with just over two minutes remaining in the contest, Fallston got the ball back on its own 32 after a North Harford punt and proceeded to drive the ball 68 yards on seven plays, with quarterback Brendan Weinhold capping the drive by scoring a touchdown on a three-yard scramble.
Needing to convert an point-after kick to tie the contest, Cougars coach Dave Cesky instead opted to go for the win with a two-point conversion.
Weinhold rolled out to his right and sprinted toward the end zone, but stopped short of the goal line and tossed out a short pass when he was met by a pack of Hawk defenders. The pass was swatted down by the North Harford secondary, and the Hawks had themselves a one-point win.
The gamble by Cesky wasn't surprising. He went for a win with a two-point try in a game against Edgewood a few years ago, only that time it succeeded.
With the victory, North Harford moved to 7-2 overall, and 5-0 in Chesapeake Division contests, while Fallston fell to 7-2 for the season and 3-2 against Chesapeake opponents.
The win wrapped up the division title for the Hawks, who maintained their one-game lead over second place C. Milton Wright, also a winner Friday, with one game left to play. North Harford, however, holds the tie-breaker by virtue of its win last week against the Mustangs.
North Harford struck first in Friday's contest, as quarterback Nic Hammer capped a drive to the Fallston four yard line with a touchdown scramble. North Harford kicker Sean Bowling hit the extra-point attempt to give the Hawks a 7-0 advantage.
Fallston would not score its first points until the final minute of the third quarter, when Weinhold tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Wyatt Alexander. Fallston's Ryan Goode put his extra-point kick through the uprights to tie the game, 7-7.
With 7:55 remaining in the fourth quarter, North Harford wrestled the lead back, as Eric Bayer capped a 59-yard, four-play drive with a 38-yard touchdown sprint. Bowling's kick was good, and the Hawks had the one-point margin that they would take to victory.
Following the Hawks' final touchdown, a strange turn of events took place.
On the ensuing kickoff, a squib right down the middle, the ball bounced off the leg of a Fallston return team member, and right back at the advancing Hawks, who recovered it near midfield. On their first play from scrimmage after the inadvertent onside kick, the Hawks fumbled and Fallston recovered.
Neither team moved the ball on the ensuing two possessions, which set the stage for the final Cougar touchdown drive and the game deciding missed 2-point attempt.
Mustangs beat Eagles
C. Milton Wright jumped ahead with the opening kickoff and then held on with no time left on the clock to beat host Aberdeen, 18-14, in Chesapeake Division play Friday night.
With Hurricane Sandy forecast to hit the area in a matter of days, the Mustangs (4-1, 7-2) and Eagles (3-2, 4-5) put forth a bit of thunder and lightning of their own.
Mustangs' return man, Antwan Ferguson took the opening kickoff at his own 15-yard line, cut through a hole to his left and raced untouched into the zone. A two-point conversion pass gave the Mustangs a 8-0 led just 12 seconds into game.
Aberdeen answered right back, or so it thought, when Eagles' return man Austin Bonsall took the ensuing kickoff some 95 yards to paydirt, only to have the score wiped out by illegal block.
The score remained 8-0 into the second quarter, where CMW kicker Matt Phillips increased the Mustangs lead to 11-0 with a 25-yard field goal.
Aberdeen countered on the ensuing possession, driving 46 yards to the end zone in four plays. Quarterback Eric Briggs tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Nate McKinney and then added a two-point pass to Maurice Harris to cut the CMW lead to three, 11-8.
Aberdeen also scored on its next possession, which ended with Briggs going into the end zone on a three-yard run with 24 seconds to play in the half. The conversion run was no good, however, leaving the Eagles with a 14-11 halftime lead.
The Eagles took the lead into the fourth quarter, but CMW scored the game-winning touchdown with 9:00 left.
The winning points came on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Omar Walker to Will Hazelton. Phillips added the extra-point to cap the scoring.
Aberdeen had one last chance from its own four-yard line, with 29 seconds to play. Briggs passed 29 yards to McKinney on first down and then 44 yards to Bonsall to the CMW 23 on the next play.
Following an illegal procedure penalty against Aberdeen, the final play went off, with CMW linebacker Tyler Bussenius sacking Briggs to end the game.
Bobcats top Warriors
Bel Air (2-3, 4-5) jumped ahead of visiting Havre de Grace (1-5, 1-8) Friday with 14 unanswered first half points, en route to a 35-6 Chesapeake win.
Havre de Grace's lone score came on Jahmee Ballard's 85-yard run. No details of Bel Air's scoring were provided.
Cobras fall to Tigers
Harford Tech (0-6, 2-7) lost 27-12 Friday in Susquehanna play at Rising Sun, which tallied its first win of the year.
Tech scored in the first quarter on a touchdown run by Isaiah Gills, but the conversion failed, leaving the Cobras with a 6-0 lead that stood until half.
Rising Sun scored the next 27 points, starting with its opening drive of the second half. The Tigers also blocked a punt for a touchdown and put together two other scoring drives before Tech scored its final points on a Dennis Pink punt return.
The Patterson Mill Huskies were knocked off, 21-17, at home on Friday night by the visiting Elkton Golden Elks.
With the loss, Patterson Mill fell to 5-4 overall, and 4-2 in Susquehanna Division contests.
Patterson Mill quarterback Luke DePasquale completed 12 of 22 passes for 147 yards and one touchdown. On the ground, DePasquale had 60 yards on 20 rushing attempts.
Ryan Jacobs led Patterson Mill's receiving corps with 115 yards on eight catches.
Mike Reed caught one 25-yard touchdown pass in the loss.
Patterson Mill running back Trey Hall had one touchdown and 20 yards on two carries.
Husky kicker Justin Erkoboni nailed a 20-yard field goal attempt.
Leading the Huskies' defense was Tyler Oppel, who had 11 tackles and forced one fumble. Jake Martin put up nine tackles in the loss, while teammate Alex Hollingshead notched eight tackles and one quarterback sack.
In two other games played Friday night, John Carroll (4-1, 8-1) earned another MIAA B Conference win, beating visiting Pallotti, 52-12.
Edgewood (2-4, 3-6) lost at North East, 21-18, in Susquehanna Division play.