Sparrows Point salvaged its season after a 1-3 start, winning seven straight games on their way to an appearance against Surrattsville in the Class 1A North football final.
And though the Pointers lost 36-28 Saturday, senior quarterback Darren Beattie was able to take solace in the fact that the team had overcome some major obstacles to keep the game — and their season — competitive.
"We started from nothing, with 24 guys out there, and we finished with 22 guys. We played hard and really were a family," he said. "Today, we just beat ourselves."
Trailing 22-20 late in the fourth quarter, Sparrows Point (8-4) managed to do the one thing it hadn't been able to do the entire game — stop Hornets running back Amaru Major.
The junior rushed for 201 yards on 19 carries, but when he shot through the line on a third-and-5 dive, he was slammed down at the 35-yard line for no gain. That moment could have given the Pointers the chance they needed, with the ability to get the ball back with seven minutes remaining.
However, Surrattsville coach Robert Harris Jr., dialed up a fake-punt pass on fourth down that went from junior Trey Lancaster to senior wideout Joel Dixon for a 65-yard touchdown.
That score, after a two-point conversion, put the Hornets up 30-20.
"It's tough because if we get the ball back there, we have a chance to go up ahead and that was the difference," said Pointers coach Glenn Imirie. "We thought the receiver was covered up, that he was ineligible."
The Pointers drove down the field on the ensuing drive, getting within six yards of the endzone. But Beattie was intercepted by Major, who ran the ball back 102 yards for the 36-20 lead. Surrattsville (9-2) had its extra-point attempt blocked.
"I was eyeing the quarterback the whole way," Major said, "And when I caught the ball, I saw that the whole field was wide open."
Despite the mistake, Beattie and the Sparrows Point offense kept pushing. Tailback Chris Long plowed for 20 yards on a critical third-down play. Beattie took the ball in his own hands on the next play, running up the right side and breaking tackle after tackle.
After barely keeping his balance, the senior dove into the end zone at the end of what would have been a 40-yard scoring play — if not for an illegal block in the back that negated the touchdown.
The drive continued and running back Willie Parker, who already had gains of 19, 24, 27 and 33 yards, dove to catch a pass for 18 yards on fourth-and-14. A few players later, Beattie scored on a 15-yard scamper narrowing the difference to eight points with 24 seconds left.
The requisite onside kick attempt was unsuccessful, ending the Pointers' frantic comeback attempt.
"He's tough," Imirie said of his quarterback. "He's a gutsy kid, and I hope he'll get a chance to take his talents on to the next level."
S 8 6 8 14 – 36
SP 0 14 0 14 – 28
S—Amaru Major 21 yd run (Wil Cox 2-yard catch from Robert Harris III for 2-point)
SS—Underwood 4-yard run (Underwood 2-yard run for 2-point)
S—Harris III 14-yard run (Failed 2-point)
SS—#14 23-yard touchdown catch (Extra point no good)
S—Harris III 1-yard run (Major 2-yard run for 2-point)
SS—Chris Long 1-yard run (Failed 2-point)
S—Trey Lancaster 65-yard pass to Dixon (Harris III 2-yard run for 2-point)
S—Major 102-yard interception return (Extra point no good)
SS—Darren Beatty 15-yard run (Long 2-yard run for 2-point)Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun