Two weeks after beating Reservoir, 14-13, in the regular season finale, River Hill took the drama out of the rematch. The Hawks scored 14 points in each half and shut out the Gators, 28-0, for the 3A East regional football championship Friday night at River Hill.
River Hill will play at 3A West champion Linganore (11-1) next Friday night in the state semifinals. Linganore beat Urbana, 51-13, on Friday night. The Hawks have shut out two playoff opponents in a row after their 49-0 win over City College last Saturday.
On Friday night, River Hill established its dominance early. Reservoir went three-and-out on its opening drive after Logan Kirby powered his way into the backfield and tackled Gators 240-pound running back Avian White for a loss. Then on its first play from scrimmage, Chris Galloway broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown run.
Both Kirby and Galloway were sidelined with injuries the last time the teams met.
"That set the tone early on, boom, (Kirby) was in the backfield," River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen said. And "you can see the spark that (Galloway) gives us, the big-play potential that we haven't had for six weeks really. He's been itching to get back and we'll need that big play threat moving forward."
White finished with 80 yards on 24 carries, his lowest total since a loss to Glenelg on Sept. 20.
With an early lead, River Hill (10-2) was able to pound the ball with its own sturdy running back, Kalonji Moore (23 carries, 143 yards), who scored three touchdowns on short runs up the middle.
Reservoir fumbled away a punt return late in the second quarter inside its own 15-yard line to set up Moore's first touchdown run, giving the Hawks a 14-0 halftime lead.
Reservoir lost junior Craig Jones to a foot injury in the second quarter. In last week's 34-13 win over Howard County champion Glenelg, Jones rushed for a 50-yard touchdown and had a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"It was tough for us. We run the ball a lot so passing is not our forte ... it got us out of what we want to do, and we struggled today," Reservoir coach Bryan Cole said. "We made some mistakes that were tough to recover from.
"I'm very proud of these kids ... they worked hard and they have a lot of dedication. You can just tell by looking at them how much it means to them."
Reservoir quarterback Max Schuster completed seven of 14 pass attempts for 39 yards, including five to Joey Janush for 24.
River Hill defensive back Mitch Howland picked off two passes, the first on a halfback pass play to set up Moore's second touchdown and the second for a touchback with less than a minute left to seal the win.
"He's one of those guys who has made the most of his opportunity. He wasn't starting at the beginning of the year, that was Chris Galloway's spot," Van Deusen said. "Mitch has come in and taken that spot and done great. I'm real proud of him and that shows that you've got to be ready at any time."
Howland broke up two other pass attempts in the second half.
"Every week watching film for hours and hours, that helps us prepare a lot. I knew what was coming 80 percent of the time. The coaches put me in a good spot, and I just had to make a play," said Howland, who has three interceptions in the playoffs. "We're just trying to keep the tradition going. Eight out of nine years we've been playing through Thanksgiving, and we didn't want that to be our burden to end tonight."
Hawks kicker Alex Potocko was 4-for-4 on extra points, and had four kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. Dominic Lopes returned the only kickoff that didn't sail into the end zone from the two-yard line to the River Hill 46, as Potocko made the touchdown-saving, open-field tackle.
Re (8-4) 0 0 0 0 - 0
RH (10-2) 14 0 7 7 - 28
RH: Galloway 50 run (Potocko kick), 10:00.
RH: Moore 4 run (Potocko kick), :18.
RH: Moore 4 run (Potocko kick), 1:30.
RH: Moore 4 run (Potocko kick), 2:32.
Re: Avian White, 24 carries, 80 yards; Craig Jones, 2-10.
RH: Kalonji Moore, 23-143, 3 TDs; Chris Galloway, 7-63, TD.
Re: Max Schuster, 7/14, 39 yards, INT.
RH: Drew Pritchard, 2/5, 19 yards.
Re: Joey Janush, 5 catches, 24 yards; Jack Barry, 1-12; Dominic Lopes, 1-3.
RH: Cory Daniel, 2-19.