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.
Justin Gunn helped out the winning cause with five tackles, one quarterback sack, and one two-yard rushing touchdown.
Chris Livingston led the Huskies in tackles with 10, while Chad Hall notched nine tackles in the victory.
Perfecto for Perryville
Like Aberdeen, Harford Tech had a chance to ruin a perfect regular season on the road at Perryville, but the Panthers were not having any of it. Perryville rolled up 66 points en route to a 66-33 win over the visiting Cobras.
Perryville scored 28 first quarter points on four touchdown passes by Gabe Sherrod. Jesse Ellis hauled in two of the scores, while Trenton Neary and Ethan Griffin each had a score.
Tech countered after the first one when Andreas Armstrong took a bouncing kickoff back 75 yards for a score. That pulled the Cobras to within two points at 8-6, but that's as close as they got.
The Panthers blew the lead up to 40-6 on another touchdown pass to Griffin and short touchdown run by Karl Palmer.
Tech closed out the half with nice scoring drive, capped by Austin Nierwinski's four-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Gills on the final play of the half. Derrell Lee caught the conversion pass to make it 40-14.
The Cobras also opened the second half with points as Nierwinski tossed a 28-yard scoring pass to Lee.
The Panthers answered with two more scores on the ground, before Tech added a scored on Nierwinski's one-yard keeper.
Two more Perryville scores boosted the lead to 66-26 before Tech scored on the final play of the game. Gary Pink raced 17 yards for the score and Colin Riley added the extra point.
North Harford over Joppatowne
The playoff bound North Harford Hawks wrapped up their regular season in style on Friday, topping the host Joppatowne Mariners, 28-16.
North Harford, which led the Class 3A North's point standings heading into Friday's game, ended its regular season with an 8-2 mark.
Joppatowne's top rusher was Jamil Lee, who scored a pair of touchdowns and ran for 175 yard on 25 rushing attempts.
The Mariners dropped to 5-5 on the year with the defeat.
Patriots beat Curley
Fighting for a MIAA B Conference playoff spot, John Carroll knocked off conference leader and visiting Archbishop Curley, 24-12, in Bel Air.
The Friars scored first on Avery Williams' 51-yard, first quarter touchdown run, but the extra point was blocked.
The Patriots went ahead in the second quarter on a 55-yard pass from Brandon Lewis to Montel Martin and Alex Gambrell's conversion kick.
Curley went back ahead in the third quarter on a nine-yard touchdown run by Matt Selikowski, but another failed conversion had the Patriots down by less than a touchdown.
Martin's 15-yard scoring jaunt put the Patriots back ahead for good later in the quarter. Gambrell added the extra-point kick and then opened the fourth quarter scoring with a 47-yard field goal.
The Patriots closed out the win with Lewis scoring on a three-yard run and Gambrell adding a final extra-point.
Warriors shut out
Havre de Grace and host Overlea went to halftime in a scoreless tie, but the Falcons reeled off 33 unanswered points to win 33-0.
The Warriors, who turned the ball over four times (two interceptions, two fumbles), drove to the Overlea four-yard line to open the second half but then turned the ball over on downs. Overlea proceeded to drive 96 yards for the game's first points, and it went downhill for the Warriors from there.
Overlea capitalized off the one second half turnover for more points and scored a back-breaking touchdown of over 40 yards on a busted play, when the ball was snapped through the quarterback's legs in the shotgun formation.
The Warriors also gave up points on a punt return touchdown.
Despite the loss and a 4-6 overall regular season record, Havre de Grace will play at Perryville next Friday in the first round of the region playoffs.
Bel Air beats CMW
The Bel Air Bobcats ended their 2011 football campaign with a 21-14 home-field victory over the C. Milton Wright Mustangs on Friday.
With the win, Bel Air moved to 4-6 on the year, while CMW fell to 2-8.
At Edgewood Friday night, the homestanding Rams topped Bo Manor, 38-14.