City quarterback Troy Robinson has no problem throwing a high pass to receiver Julius Harvey. He trusts that his 6-foot-2 teammate will haul it in.
Harvey did just that in the final minutes of Thursday’s game at Mervo. Mustangs’ defensive back DaShawn Flythe, who had already intercepted Robinson once, stayed tight on the receiver, but Harvey turned and reached over Flythe to make the game-saving grab on the 38-yard pass.
Harvey’s catch, on fourth-and-27, set up Tayshawn Mayo’s 2-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14. In overtime, Robinson converted a 1-yard, fourth-down quarterback sneak to give the No. 14 Knights a 20-14 victory in a Baltimore City Division I game for coach George Petrides’ 250th career victory.
“I just wanted Troy to put it up there,” Harvey said. “I told him I’d go get it. I prefer the high ones. I think it was a big momentum changer. If we didn’t make that play, we might have lost that game. That’s what pushed us through the rest of the game.”
The Knights (6-1, 4-1 division) needed the late-game theatrics to overcome a 14-0 Mervo lead. The Mustangs’ defense allowed only one run of more than 10 yards and held Mayo to 75 yards on 23 carries. Robinson ran 11 times for 11 yards and was 8-for-25 passing for 129 yards and an interception.
City’s defense also put a lot of pressure on the Mustangs, whose leading rusher was quarterback Tyree Dowery with 27 yards on 10 carries.
With 1:18 left in the third quarter, the Knights forced Dowery into the end zone on third-and-five from the Mustangs’ 10. Dowery, who was 5-for-13 passing for 61 yards, threw the ball away and was called for intentional grounding, resulting in an automatic safety and the Knights’ first points.
Seconds later, Corey Davis returned the Mustangs’ kickoff 55 yards for a touchdown, cutting the Mervo lead to 14-10.
The Knights finally got their offense rolling in the last six minutes of regulation, moving 59 yards on 15 plays. Robinson converted twice on fourth down, including a 13-yard pass to Rodney Garvery midway through the drive.
“Last week we was on the bad end of the fourth downs where we had to stop them,” Robinson said of the 28-26 loss to No. 6 Dunbar. “This week, we had a chance to make plays on fourth down and we just dug deep and we came through with the plays."
On his 2-yard scoring run, Mayo covered about 10 yards, breaking a tackle on the left side and running back around the right side to the end zone.
In overtime, during which each team gets the ball at the 10-yard line with four downs to score, the Mustangs got the ball first. On fourth-down with 6 yards to go, Mervo coach Patrick Nixon elected to try a field goal. Bryant Sterling’s 23-yard attempt soared just wide.
On the next drive, the Knights got a little help from Mervo with an offsides penalty to move 5 yards closer to the goal line. Robinson hit Dravon Collins with a 4-yard pass and then ran it the final yard.
“I was tired of playing with them,” Robinson said. “I said, ‘Coach, QB sneak and I’m going to get you in’ and he trusts me and I got in. Praise to the line because without them I wouldn’t have got in.”
For Mervo (1-6, 0-4), a team much better than its record would indicate, the loss was especially crushing because it was their third loss this season on the final play of the game.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Nixon said. “We had a great week of practice. We were able to pretty much identify all the plays they like to run, but hats off to City. In the second half, they stepped up and made the plays they had to make.”
The Mustangs scored their first touchdown as time ran out in the first quarter when Daron Holmes recovered a fumble in the Knights’ end zone. Walter Ferguson’s conversion run made it 8-0.
City couldn’t move the ball on its next drive and a fumbled snap on the punt set up the Mustangs on the Knights’ 20-yard line. Three plays later Tyreke Rudolph made it 14-0 with an 11-yard touchdown run with 8:01 left in the half.