Old Mill has frustrated Arundel so many times in playoff games. The Wildcats are 0-4 in the last 10 years and never beat the Patriots in a postseason matchup.
Until Friday night.
That's when No. 10 Arundel rallied to shock No. 2 Old Mill, 25-22, in a Class 4A East Region first-round game. Old Mill took the lead three times, but the visiting Wildcats kept coming back and won it when quarterback Anthony Messenger threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Don Keith with 1 minute, 12 seconds remaining.
“We just believed in each other,” said Messenger. “We were relentless. We've been through too much. Adversity is the name of the game [for us].”
Arundel (9-2) advances to play No. 8 Meade in the second round next weekend. The Mustangs beat Broadneck, 41-31, in their matchup Friday night.
“It's all happened to us,” said Arundel coach Chuck Markiewicz about his team's playoff problems with Old Mill, shaking his head. “But we've worked hard to get here. That's a good football team over there.”
The Patriots took the lead at 7-0, 14-7 and 22-19. But Arundel simply wouldn't quit.
Messenger kept the offense moving, especially in the second half, when the Wildcats scored 18 of their 25 points. He directed three touchdown drives in the final two quarters. Jordan Stewart (nine catches, 66 yards) led the way, along with John Dodd (five catches, 55 yards) and Larry Barnes (five catches, 70 yards). Messenger's clutch passing in the second half kept Arundel alive.
The Wildcats trailed, 14-7, at halftime but took the lead when Diondre Wallace twice ran for 1-yard touchdowns in the third quarter. Arundel lost kicker Isaiah Watson to a first-half leg injury and missed extra-point chances on the third period scores and held a 19-14 lead after three.
Old Mill tried to rally, but Andrew Cassard picked off quarterback Brady Ludwig's pass at the 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter. The Patriots finished the job later in the period when Ludwig threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Devin Salisbury on fourth-and-6.
Ludwig's 2-point conversion pass to Chris Huie gave the Patriots a 22-19 lead with 4:38 left. Messenger then marched the Wildcats 79 yards on 14 plays, capping it with a 22-yard pass to Keith — his second touchdown catch of the game — down the right sideline.
“We thought the corner was going to bite,” Keith said. “The corner bit and it was wide open. I love it.”
Old Mill had a chance to force overtime on one final drive, but kicker Brady Hannon pulled a 35-yard field goal wide right with 2.5 seconds left. That ended the Old Mill jinx for Arundel.
Class 4A East Region Playoff
No. 10 Arundel 25, No. 2 Old Mill 22
A- 70126- 25
O- 7708- 22
O- Franklin 4 run (Hannon kick)
A- Keith 7 pass from Messenger (Watson kick)
O- Hicks 2 run (Hannon kick)
A- Wallace 1 run (kick blocked)
A- Wallace 1 run (pass failed)
O- Salisbury 15 pass from Ludwig (Huie pass from Ludwig)
A- Keith 22 pass from Messenger (kick failed)Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun