Trailing Reginald F. Lewis by a point late in Saturday's Class 1A North regional football playoffs, Manchester Valley coach Tony Shermeyer decided to take a big risk -- and the gamble paid off.
On fourth-and-24 from their own 46-yard line, the Mavericks went for it and quarterback Dominick Frank, who had just run for 17 yards on third-and-41, completed a 33-yard pass to Zach Heron.
Helped along by two Falcons penalties, the Mavericks scored three plays later on a 6-yard run. Kyle Armstrong's extra point gave Manchester Valley a 20-14 lead with 2:46 left that would hold up for the first football playoff win in school history.
Shermeyer said he thought about it only for a second.
"I'm never going to sit back and not take a chance with the guys we've got on the field," Shermeyer said. "Even though Dom had a rough day with getting pressure and even though we had a rough game overall, I still have confidence in our kids to make plays when it counts and that's the senior leadership that we've got. Dom made a play when it counted."
Frank, a 6-foot, 176-pound senior, is the first quarterback in Carroll County history to run and pass for 1,000 yards each and Saturday, he ran for two touchdowns and threw for one. He finished 11 of 23 passing for 164 yards with two interceptions and ran 27 times for 73 yards.
The Mavericks (8-3) advance to play New Town for the regional title next week.
Both teams were looking for their first playoff wins -- although Lewis (9-2) had been in the regionals twice before -- but the Mavericks did a terrific job of stopping the Falcons' running game. They held running back Donnie Neal, who had gained at least 100 yards in 19 straight games, to 60 yards on 22 carries.
"They came out here and played hard," Neal said. "We slept on them and we started out slow and they hit us in our mouth when we started and the last play was blown coverage. It's hard for me as a senior to go home, but this program will keep building. The coaches are doing great things for the program."
The Mavericks scored their first touchdown after Tyler Cherigo picked off a Tayvon Queen pass for a 66-yard return before Neal forced him out of bounds.
The Mavericks ran the ball six times and scored on Frank's 3-yard run a minute into the second quarter. Lewis, however, scored after Manchester Valley fumbled a Falcons punt and Lewis' DaQuan Thomas recovered on the Mavericks' 11-yard line. Two Neal runs ended the drive with a two-yard touchdown romp. Neal also converted the run for an 8-7 lead.
Frank then led the Mavericks on an eight-play, 73-yard drive that culminated in his 14-yard touchdown pass to Cherigo for a 13-8 lead as time expired in the first half.
Manchester Valley 20, Reginald F. Lewis 14
MV 0 13 0 7 -- 20
RL 0 8 6 0 -- 14
MV--Frank 3 run (Armstrong kick)
RL--Neal 2 run (Neal run)
MV--Cherigo 14 pass from Frank (run failed)
RL--Thomas 58 pass from Queen (run failed)
MV--Frank 6 run (Armstrong kick)Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun