River Hill needed only 15 seconds to score the winning touchdown in Friday night's showdown against previously undefeated Mt. Hebron.
Hawks senior Evan Griffin fielded the opening kickoff on his own 14-yard line, slipped a few tackles, and then dashed 86 yards down the field to put his team ahead, 6-0.
"That was a nice spark to start the game," coach Brian Van Deusen said. "We got some good blocks and Evan took it to the house."
Forty-seven minutes and 45 seconds later, Griffin (57 yards) had scored twice more on short runs, and the three-time state champion Hawks (6-0) had won, 37-0, on homecoming.
After the initial burst of offense, the River Hill defense took over, crowding the Mt. Hebron front on every play, and holding the Vikings to minus-8 rushing yards in the first half. The Hawks recorded four quarterback sacks in the game, including two by junior Logan Kirby.
"The key to our defense right now is the front three: Logan, Justin Nestor, Anthony Corrao; those guys are being so disruptive, pressuring the quarterback, and you see it, they're forcing them to rush a bunch of throws," Van Deusen said.
The Hawks stopped Mt. Hebron eight times on third down, and three times on fourth down conversion attempts.
River Hill rushed for 255 yards and four touchdowns, while holding the Vikings to just 8 net rushing yards.
River Hill's Justin Arn led all players with 127 rushing yards, including an 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Mt. Hebron had its chances, gaining ten first downs and driving to the River Hill 23-yard line in the second quarter. That drive stalled on a 4th-and-16 failed conversion attempt. But after Mt. Hebron's Marty Stevenson intercepted a pass on River Hill's next possession, the Vikings were in good position again.
The ensuing drive pushed all the way inside River Hill's ten-yard line, but once again sputtered out after three consecutive plays for negative yardage, and an incomplete pass.
In all, River Hill tackled Mt. Hebron ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage ten times, for a total loss of 70 yards. Nick Schanne (3-22), Justin Arn (3-21), Kirby (4-23) and Nestor (1-11) all had tackles for loss.
"Every guy was doing their job, stopping the outside, always watching the quarterback — we knew he was quick — we just watched a lot of film to stop them," Arn said.
The Mt. Hebron offense, which had averaged 32 points per game coming into this week, was not held completely in check.
Quarterback Malik Gilmore completed 13 passes for 100 yards, with four each going to Dillan Solo (43 yards) and Thomas Burke (32).
"We had our work cut out for us, Malik is able to extend plays and run and he's tough to defend, he made some big plays, but fortunately we had pressure on him all night," Van Deusen said.
Mt. Hebron's Zach Nicholas also returned four kickoffs for a total of 104 yards, and Antonio Vogt had two tackles for loss, including an 8-yard sack. Urek Bradshaw recovered a fumble.
Despite the loss, Mt. Hebron is off to its best start since the 2004 season.
"At the beginning of the season we would have said, OK, I'll take 5-1," first year coach Phil Zacharias said. "So it's just about where we go from here … one game does not a season make."
River Hill has now won 16 games in a row, including last year's 3A state title, and is now 68-5 since the beginning of the 2007 season.
"River Hill is a step above, let's be honest," Zahcarias said. "They do it ... they've been to the finish line, we've got to figure out how to get there, and it didn't happen tonight."
MH (5-1) 0 0 0 0 - 0
RH (6-0) 20 3 0 14 - 37
RH: Griffin 86 kick return (Potocko kick), 11:45. [7-0]
RH: Altman 3 run (Potocko kick), 7:16. [14-0]
RH: Griffin 5 run (kick failed), 2:49. [20-0]
RH: Potocko 36 field goal, :00. [23-0]
RH: Arn 11 run (Potocko kick), 7:50. [30-0]
RH: Griffin 2 run (Potocko kick), :46. [37-0]
MH: Nicholas 5-19; Porter 10-7; Team 27-8.
RH: Arn 12-127, TD; Griffin 12-57, 2 TD; Osong 7-55; Altman 7-16, TD; Team 38 -255, 4 TD.
MH: Gilmore 13/23, 100.
RH: Altman 5/12, 84, INT.
MH: Solo 4-43; Burke 4-32; Nicholas 2-31; Leach 1-8.
RH: Griffin 1-40; Ball 3-24; Osong 1-20.
Leading kick/punt returners
MH: Nicholas 4-104.
RH: Griffin 1-86, TD.
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