A grind-it-out game in the truest sense, River Hill narrowly escaped its first loss in more than a year, as the visiting Hawks defeated the Glenelg Gladiators 7-3 Friday night.
It was Hawks quarterback Drew Pritchard who connected with fellow senior and captain Cory Daniel for a 55-yard touchdown pass with just over three minutes remaining in the game that proved to be the difference.
“It was crazy,” Daniel said. “This was a tough team. Glenelg is always a tough opponent against us, and we knew we had to win to get the season going.”
Just a few plays earlier, Daniel thought he had a touchdown after a similar deep throw-and-catch from Pritchard. But, an illegal formation penalty brought back the score. River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen was proud that his team was able to rebound.
“It was a tough one,” he said. “We had it open and he made a great play. I give our kids all the credit, it would have been easy to put their heads down after that.”
Alex Paul’s 22-yard field goal with just under seven minutes to play looked to be all Glenelg needed to knock off the defending 3A state champions before the go-ahead score.
“Our kids played hard, and I’m extremely proud of them,” Glenelg coach Butch Schaffer said after the game. “They are a tremendous football program. We just made too many mistakes to win against a great team.”
The Howard County foes traded possession after possession, with neither squad successfully reaching the red zone until late in the second half.
Senior Luke Cheswick led the Gladiators on defense with an interception and fumble recovery in the first half.
River Hill (1-0) 0 0 0 7 - 7
Glenelg (0-1) 0 0 0 3 - 3
G: Paul 22 field goal, 7:00.
RH: Daniel 55 pass from Pritchard (Potocko kick), 3:00.
Around the league
Atholton 35, Marriotts Ridge 7
The Raiders got off to a good start as transfer Byran Barney scored on a 75-yard punt return early in the first quarter against his old school. Barney also caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Phillip Frazier (3-for-4, 63 yards).
Isaac Murray, the league's top returning rusher, gained 152 yards and scored a touchdown on a dozen carries. Cody Stolar led the Raiders' defense with 12 tackles, while sophomore Cole Mason intercepted a pass.
Atholton junior Kevin Ford had a fine varsity debut, rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown and making a 35-yard reception.
The game was also the debut of new head coaches John Swigart (Atholton) and Marcus Lewis (Marriotts Ridge).
Centennial 28, Reservoir 7
The Eagles, who last made the playoffs in 1980, stunned Reservoir, a 2012 regional semifinalist, on Friday night, 28-7.
Eagles running back Walter Fletcher scored three times on the ground while Damon Reaves returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Austin Kraisser led the Centennial defense (4 pass breakups, 2 turnovers caused) with 6.5 tackles.
Junior C.J. Jones scored Reservoir's lone touchdown on a 65-yard run in the third quarter.
Centennial's last win over the Gators came in 2009 by a score of 8-7.
Hammond 27, Mt. Hebron 0
The Golden Bears continued where they left off last year, shutting out 3A East regional semifinalist Mt. Hebron, 27-0, in new head coach Justin Carey's debut. Carey was the defensive coordinator for Atholton last season.
Hammond senior quarterback Tyler Martin (3 carries, 70 yards) got the scoring started in the first quarter with an 11-yard run and then threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre House to give his team a 14-0 halftime lead. House also intercepted three passes on defense.
Drequan Reed (9 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and Pierre Sylvert (6 tackles, 2 sacks) were also key to keeping Mt. Hebron off of the score board.
Martin scored on another short run after halftime, before junior Talib Hedgepth (26 carries, 113 yards) closed the scoring with a nine-yard touchdown run.
Hammond has now won three games in a row by a combined score of 95-13, including two wins over Mt. Hebron.
Ha: Martin 11 run (Najafabadi kick).
Ha: House 23 pass from Martin (Najafabadi kick).
Ha: Martin 3 run (Najafabadi kick).
Ha: Hedgepth 9 run (kick failed).
Howard 13, Wilde Lake 10
Wilde Lake quarterback Spencer Ampofo completed nine of his 14 pass attempts for 110 yards, including a touchdown pass and two-point conversion to Malik Jackson (5 catches, 58 yards), but the Howard defense held Wilde Lake to only seven first downs and 45 yards on the ground in a 13-10 win.
Oakland Mills 44, Long Reach 6
The Scorpions, who had lost 17 straight games, blew Long Reach out of the water on Friday night by scoring five first-quarter touchdowns: a 75-yard scamper by quarterback David Pindell, a 20-yard interception return by Javonte Rose, a 20-yard fumble return by Joey Celtnieks, a 20-yard reception by Dershone Hayman and a short run by Ian McFarlane.
Pindell scored again in the second quarter on a 50-yard run to give his team a 38-0 halftime lead.
Long Reach finally got on the board in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard touchdown reception by Rob Carter.
Oakland Mills scored only 64 points in all of 2012, including 26 in a 34-26 loss to Long Reach. The 44 points was the most scored by Oakland Mills since a 49-14 win over Marriotts Ridge in 2010, and the 38 point victory was the team's most lopsided in at least seven years.
Oakland Mills had allowed double-digit points in 47 consecutive games, dating back to a 9-7 win over Hammond on Sept. 20, 2008.
OM: Pindell 75 run.
OM: Rose 20 interception return (Riss kick).
OM: Celtniek 20 fumble return (Riss kick).
OM: Hayman 20 pass from Pindell.
OM: McFarlane 3 run.
OM: Pindell 50 run.
OM: Stanfield 1 pass from Pindell.
LR: Carter 10 pass from Smalley.
Thursday, Sept. 12 games
Glenelg (0-1) at Wilde Lake (0-1)
Hammond (1-0) at Long Reach (0-1)
Howard (1-0) at Atholton (1-0)
Marriotts Ridge (0-1) at River Hill (1-0)
Oakland Mills (1-0) at Centennial (1-0)
Reservoir (0-1) at Mt. Hebron (0-1)