With his team safely ahead, 24-0, against visiting Glenelg on Friday night, Reservoir head coach Bryan Cole was able to rest his starters as the last few minutes ticked off the clock.
It was an unlikely scenario for a team that started the season with back-to-back losses to Mt. Hebron and Atholton. In fact, even Cole was a little bit surprised.
"We kept playing well and we kept expecting something bad to happen that we'd have to respond to, but our guys played pretty sound and the game kind of took turns for us," Cole said. "We were always worried because their (coaching) staff is pretty good."
The Reservoir defense held Glenelg to four rushing yards in the first half, and 22 for the game. The Gators stopped Glenelg ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage nine times — including sacking QB Mark Darden four times in the first half for a loss of 30 yards — and Cameron Brooks and James Simms each intercepted passes.
"We came out and told ourselves we need to be aggressive in general, we knew if we were aggressive we would win," Simms said. "So we just came out and started hitting them on defense."
And on offense, running back Robert Armstrong led the way, gaining 95 yards on 15 carries.
Simms (-22) and safety Alex Alli (-15) each had two sacks for almost 40 lost yards.
"We've got Simms in there at middle linebacker ... and you've got to get the ball off fast because he gets through and he's in your face," Cole said.
Glenelg's best scoring chance came early in the second quarter, when the Gladiators drove the ball all the way to the Reservoir ten-yard line after a 40-yard Brent Richardson kickoff return. But the drive ended with a missed 30-yard field goal.
Reservoir responded with a quick nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass from Max Schuster to Simms, giving the Gators a 14-0 halftime lead.
"We always say at halftime that scoreboard says 0-0, every game," Simms said.
The second half featured more of the same, as Reservoir's aggressive defense thwarted Glenelg again and again.
A 23-yard Austin Marsh field goal in the third quarter, and a short-run by Schuster early in the fourth quarter accounted for the final score.
The Gators held Glenelg to only nine first downs in the game, and stopped the Gladiators four times on fourth-down conversion attempts.
"As weeks go on our personnel just gets better and better," Cole said. "Tonight everything just kept rolling and our kids became more confident."
The Gators shut out three opponents last season, but Glenelg had not been held scoreless since a week one loss to Atholton last season.
"They outplayed us, they deserved to win, they played a great game," Glenelg coach Butch Schaffer said. "We were just outplayed in every facet of the game."
Glenelg's David Brookhart intercepted a pass in the first quarter to end Reservoir's first drive, and receiver Christian Salandra caught three passes for 46 yards.
Last October, Reservoir defeated Glenelg, 19-13, in overtime.
G (2-2) 0 0 0 0 - 0
Re (2-2) 7 7 3 7 - 24
Re: White 1 run (Marsh kick), :38. [7-0]
Re: Simms 18 pass from Schuster (Marsh kick), 2:55. [14-0]
Re: Marsh 23 field goal, 5:04. [17-0]
Re: Schuster 3 run (Marsh kick), 9:41. [24-0]
G: Crabill 9-26; Brookhart 2-11; Salandra 1-8; Team 22-22.
Re: Armstrong 15-95; Schuster 4-29, TD; White 6-16, TD; Brooks 5-10; Team 34-160, 2 TD.
G: Darden 7/16, 50, INT; Randle 4/7, 44, INT.
Re: Schuster 5/9, 50, TD, INT.
G: Salandra 3-46; Jacoby 2-19; Brookhart 2-8; Carta 2-7; Paul 1-7.
Re: Simms 3-33, TD; Armstrong 1-11; Mitchell 1-6.
Leading kick/punt returners
G: Richardson 1-40; Crabill 2-28.
Re: Brooks 1-15; Mohamed 1-15.
Around the league
Long Reach 13, Atholton 12
Long Reach schocked previously undefeated Atholton, 13-12, on Friday night. The Lighting defense, which had allowed a league worst 39.33 points per game coming into this week, came through with an inspired performance, stopping Atholton on what would have been a game-winning two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter.
"It was incredible," Long Reach coach Pete Hughes said. "Our kids have never given up, even when their backs are against the wall."
Daquan Dixon scored both touchdowns for the Lightning, and Xavier Haywood-Irani paced the Long Reach ground game. Long Reach rushed for 268 yards and 14 first downs, and converted seven times on third or fourth down.
It was the first win of the season for Long Reach, which had not beaten Atholton since 2008.
"If we play with the kind of emotion and intensity we had tonight we have a good chance of winning out and going to the playoffs," Hughes said. "That's our goal."
Luke Casey led the Atholton offense with 128 rushing yards and a touchdown, and he completed four passes — three of them to Keyon Pinnock for 23 yards. Isaac Murray rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Cody Stolar (12), Brandon Anthony (9) and Brian Gsell (8) led the Atholton defense.
Last week, Atholton defeated Howard, 35-34, when the Lions fell short trying to go for the winning two-point conversion.
Mt. Hebron 35, Marriotts Ridge 13
The Vikings improved to 4-0 by defeating visiting Marriotts Ridge, 35-13.
Mt. Hebron and River Hill are now the last two undefeated teams in the league, and they'll meet at River Hill on Oct. 5.
Mt. Hebron QB Malik Gilmore completed 9 of 11 pass attempts for 98 yards, including a 12-yard scoring pass to Dillan Solo, and scored two rushing touchdowns (21, 7). Thomas Burke had three catches for 40 yards. Jackson Porter led the Mt. Hebron run game with 125 yards, and caught two passes for 15 more.
The Vikings were hamstrung by 12 penalties totaling 115 lost yards.
Mustangs RB Marcus Smith rushed for 85 yards on 15 carries, including an 18-yard touchdown run, and QB David Bryant threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Duncan Campbell.
Last week Marriotts Ridge (1-3) beat Oakland Mills to end a 32-game losing streak.
River Hill 54, Hammond 28
River Hill (4-0) built a 20-8 first quarter lead and never looked back, avenging a 2011 loss to Hammond, 54-28.
Justin Arn scored four times in the offensive bonanza, twice on the ground, once through the air, and on a 62-yard kickoff return. Austin Altman threw three touchdown passes, once to Arn (30 yards) and twice to Evan Griffin (44, 10). Griffin also scored on a 35-yard run. Alex Potocko was 6-for-6 on extra point attempts.
Altman has already thrown ten scoring passes this season, and Griffin and Arn have combined to score 18 touchdowns.
The Hawks have now scored 50 or more points three times this season, and are averaging 52.75 points per game.
Dionte Jones scored twice for the Golden Bears (1-3), on a short run and a 94-yard kickoff return. Jared Turner scored twice on two-point conversions, and on a short touchdown run. Hammond QB Tyler Martin threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Corey Dickson.
Oakland Mills was the last team to score 28 points against River Hill, in a 48-28 loss in October of 2010.
Wilde Lake 34, Oakland Mills 0
The Wildecats (2-2) got back on track, shutting out winless Oakland Mills, 34-0.
The game was scoreless after the first quarter, and Wilde Lake led only 7-0 at halftime, but the Wildecats broke it open with three touchdowns in the third quarter. Desmond Gardner (51, TD), Shawn Winans (48), Al Rivera (48, TD), Wayne Long (35, TD), Eric Handy (30) and John Radcliffe (20) led a deep and varied Wilde Lake run game. Moise Larose led the Wilde Lake defense with eight tackles (5 solo). Winans, Trevon Jacks and Steve Jordan each collected a sack, with Jacks netting a 17-yard loss. Malik Holland and Al Rivera each intercepted passes, and Malik Jackson blocked two punts.
Sophomore Rashawn Curbeam led the Oakland Mills running game with 64 yards, and recorded a team-best eight tackles on defense. Jimmy Riss tallied a sack and Trevon Hopkins intercepted a pass.
Howard 21, Centennial 7
The Lions (3-1) spoiled Centennial's homecoming, 21-7, although the Eagles (1-3) put up a fight, battling to a halftime tie, and trailing by just a touchdown into the fourth quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Patrick McKinnis — in for the injured Tyler Morris — gave the Eagles an early lead, scoring on a short run in the first quarter. But the Lions held Centennial scoreless the rest of the way. McKinnis completed four of his five pass attempts for 63 yards. Damon Reaves caught two passes for 22 yards, and Chase Conley had a 25-yard reception. Walter Fletcher rushed for 100 yards on 25 carries.
Michael Anderson scored twice for the Lions, and Kyle Walker scored once from seven yards out.