North Harford's football team took the air out of  Aberdeen's high-flying start with its running game Friday night thanks in large part to a smothering performance by the offensive line.
The visiting Hawks scored their first touchdown on Eric Bayer's 49-yard rush and went on to a 38-12 victory over previously unbeatenAberdeen in an Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference Chesapeake Division game in Harford County.
The running game set up a successful passing game as well for the Hawks (4-1, 1-0 division) as option quarterback Ryan Stinar threw for a touchdown and ran for two more.
The Eagles (4-1, 1-1) had turned things around after finishing 1-9 a year ago, but the Hawks, who finished 11-1 last season and won the UCBAC title, held tough on the line and got some terrific performances from their all-new starting backfield.
"We knew we had talent there," Hawks coach Ken Brinkman said, "and everybody was concerned we were losing so many people [to graduation last year], but a lot of those guys got a lot of playing time last year and were able to step in. When they're called upon, they do a great job."
Although Stinar and Bayer scored all of the Hawks' rushing touchdowns, Josh Welsh had most of the carries.
The Hawks took a 10-0 lead on Bayer's touchdown run — opened up around the right side by Tyler Ayres' block on two Eagles — and Chris King's 28-yard field goal set up by Tyler Campbell's fumble recovery.
The Eagles didn't get a first down for nearly 18 minutes. They finally got on the board when Chavez Cheatam caught a pass from Kenny Faulcon and broke several tackles on his way 72 yards to the end zone, pulling Aberdeen within 10-6 with 3:52 left in the first half.
The momentum didn't last, however, as the Hawks needed just 24 seconds and two plays to go 40 yards and boost their lead to 17-6 on Stinar's 16-yard touchdown pass to Nick Tittle with 3:28 to go in the half.
Trevor Atkinson made it 24-6 when he recovered a blocked punt — knocked down by Anthony Lewis — in the end zone early in the third quarter. Stinar's 27-yard touchdown run ended the quarter with a 31-6 North Harford lead.
The Eagles managed most of their momentum on big plays, but they didn't come often enough against a stellar Hawks defense. Late in the game, penalties wiped out several big plays, including a Dante Warfield touchdown run. Cheatam scored on another long pass from Faulcon — 68 yards — with 6:48 to go, but Stinar got those points back less than three minutes later with his 12-yard touchdown run.
"They outplayed us at almost every position," said Eagles coach Johnny Brooks, in his first season at Aberdeen after 13 years at Havre de Grace. "We were just undisciplined. I preached all week that against an option team, you've got to be disciplined. If one man's not doing his job, you're in trouble. It was a combination of everyone tonight."
NH 10 7 14 7 -- 38
A 0 6 0 6 -- 12
NH—Bayer 49 run, King kick
NH—King 28 FG
A—Cheatam 72 pass from Faulcon, run failed
NH—Tittle 16 pass from Stinar, King kick
NH—Atkinson blocked punt rec., King kick
NH—Stinar 27 run, King kick
A—Cheatam 68 pass from Faulcon, pass failed
NH—Stinar 12 run, King kickCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun