Meade coach Rich Holzer faced a difficult decision when his team scored a touchdown with 48 seconds left Friday night. Kicking the extra point would tie the game with visiting Arundel, but if he gambled and went for two, the Mustangs could win.
Holzer rolled the dice and came up big. Jamarkeus Hammond ran for the two-point conversion on his first carry of the season, and No. 6 Meade pulled out a dramatic, 22-21 victory over No. 3 Arundel in the Class 4A East final.
Meade (10-2) has won back-to-back region championships and will advance next week to the state semifinal. The Mustangs lost to eventual state champion Henry A. Wise last year in the semifinals.
Arundel held a 21-14 lead for most of the second half after Larry Barnes ran for a 9-yard score on his team's first drive of the third quarter. Meade scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the game, but the Mustangs did little offensively after that, until their late game-winning drive — and the coach didn’t blink when quarterback DJ Pate threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Tyree Turner.
“We were going to control our own destiny,” Holzer said. “There was no hesitation on that call.”
Starting at his own 32-yard line with 2:23 left, Meade's Pate led the Mustangs through the air and on the ground during a 68-yard drive. One of his biggest plays was a quick throw to Kyle Evans on a fourth-and-3 that the running back turned into a 19-yard gain.
That kept the Mustangs alive, and three plays later, Pate threw the 29-yard touchdown pass to Turner with 48 seconds left. Turner leapt up to make the catch, spun away from an Arundel defender and cut through traffic into the end zone
That cut the lead to 21-20, and the Mustangs ran a new play. They lined up in a full house backfield with Evans set up as a wide receiver to the left, and two tight ends flexed to the right. It started out looking like a sweep, but instead Pate headed off to Hammond right up the middle for the conversion.
Hammond said he’s been asking for that play to be put in all season long, but the coaches hadn’t done it.
Now, on his first time carrying the ball, Hammond got through a nice-sized hole for the two-point conversion that riled the crowd and moved Meade to the next round. The play, simply called “Orange,” squeezed two points out of the Arundel defense that had been tough all night.
“It was wide open,” he said. “Once I got the ball, it was a wrap.”
Arundel (9-3) then made it to the Meade 24, but Hammond knocked down an Anthony Messenger pass at the 3-yard line as time ran out to lock up the win.
Meade took command early. Evans ran for an 11-yard touchdown on the game’s first series, and Pate threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to David Richards on the next series for a 14-0 lead.
The Wildcats then got a 5-yard touchdown pass from Messenger to Jordan Stewart later in the quarter. Messenger then hit Don Keith with a 16-yard scoring pass with eight seconds left in the half to cut the lead to 14-13.
Barnes added his 9-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and Messenger got the conversion run for the 21-14 lead that stayed in place until the two-point decision, one that didn’t shock the Arundel coaches.
“That’s what I would have done,” Arundel coach Chuck Markiewicz said. “We never, ever doubted they’d go for two. It was a valiant effort [from Arundel]. It just wasn’t enough."