Before the game, South River marched over to the 45-yard line and circled up. Players crashed into one another in the center – “bull in the ring” – fired up by their teammates, while Broadneck warmed up next to them.
It was then, quarterback David Foust said, that they knew they had the intensity they needed to win. It didn’t matter that they were ranked fourth regionally and the Bruins first.
“We schedule tough teams … and these guys aren’t going to back down,” Seahawks coach Ed Dolch said. “That was our mindset coming over here.”
Led by Foust (12-20, 135 passing yards and two touchdowns), the Seahawks rolled over Broadneck, claiming the 4A East semifinal game, 28-21 and extending their state championship dreams for another week.
Senior running back Joe Foy spurred the Seahawks on the ground, totaling 30 carries for 203 yards and a touchdown.
South River advances to face North Point (11-0), which defeated Arundel on Friday night.
For Broadneck, though, the loss ended its playoff run and a 10-game unbeaten streak, led by freshman quarterback Josh Ehrlich.
And at first, it looked like the same old Broadneck, too.
It’s practically in their non-existent contracts for the Bruins to score on their first drive, and Friday was no different. The Seahawks thrice forced Broadneck to a third-down situation, but the Bruins were always able to convert. Led by speedy Jason Carcamo, who soon crossed two yards to land the first touchdown, Broadneck took a 7-0 lead with less than four minutes gone.
The Seahawks weren’t going to be an easy victim, though, and they let that be known immediately. Though the Broadneck defense forced a couple lost yards on some snaps, they couldn’t quite figure out Foust’s arm. He completed four of his six pass-attempts on the drive, finally finding Sean Leonard on a slant, from seven yards out for the first Seahawks touchdown.
Two-thirds of the first quarter were gone, and the Bruins were essentially back to square one.
And things weren’t about to get better.
First, Ehrlich was dragged down in the pocket. Then, on a throw at mid-field, he was picked off for only a handful of times of his young career by Leonard.
Heading into the second quarter, Broadneck needed to send a message — but South River beat them to it.
Though the Bruins were able to stymie their foes’ first campaign, their own wouldn’t last long. On second-and-18, senior Ryan Powell sacked Ehrlich. As the ball squirted out of the freshman’s hands, Powell scooped it up, handing the Seahawks possession just two yards from scoring territory.
Minutes later, they would capitalize. Foust rushed a yard for the touchdown, doubling South River’s lead, 14-7.
“We’ve known all along what David could do,” Dolch said. “We’ve had him in the fold since seventh grade. He’s going to be a great one.”
Broadneck, on the other hand, continued to ache. In eight plays, Ehrlich ushered his Bruins 52 yards down field. His ninth, though, was the end of it.
The Seahawks intercepted Ehrlich for the second time in the end zone by defensive back Aaron Stecklow. The freshman quarterback, who’d had a high passing rate all season, went 3 for 16 on his throws on Friday.
“You have days like this, nights like this,” Broadneck coach Rob Harris said of his quarterback. “It’s part of being a competitor. Use it as fuel to fuel your fire.”
However, the Seahawks’ luck shifted – on the snap, a host of Bruins swarmed Foust. Defensive back Romeo Simonds extracted the ball from the pile, returning both possession, and a little favor, to the home team.
The Bruins ran with it — specifically, Carcamo did. The running back (19 carries for 164 yards) tore up 23 and 12 yards in two carries for the tying touchdown.
With its lead gone, South River moved toward correcting it. Then, on the Seahawks’ fourth down, it was Foust who suffered a pick this time, as linebacker Josh Cain plucked the ball from the air and hurtled 64 yards across the soggy turf for the go-ahead Broadneck touchdown.
South River had a few tricks left in the half, though, to kill the possibility of trailing their hosts into halftime. Even with his offense stalled at first-and-22 and then second-and-16, Foy cut to the right side and rocketed 43 yards for a Seahawks touchdown.
“Recently, they released the BTC [Baltimore Touchdown Club] All-Star roster, and he wasn’t on it. I think he’s been on a mission ever since to prove them wrong, that he is the guy in this county [to watch],” Dolch said.
Tangled up at 21 apiece, the two went to halftime.
South River had scored on Broadneck before in two quarters, in the regular season, a game that the Bruins would go on to win.
But the Seahawks have had some time to figure out the solution.
“We felt we’ve played them tough in our experience in the regular season,” Dolch said. “It was just a matter of going back, seeing what we were successful with and correcting some of the errors we made and try to sustain that success over four quarters instead of just one half.”
Broadneck successfully corralled South River in its end or a few plays, but that was on the ground. The air was their quarterback’s domain.
Foust launched a pass 51 yards into the end zone to Shaun Hemphill for the go-ahead touchdown, and after a good kick, South River had pulled ahead once again, 28-21.
“I just know where he’s going to be,” Foust said of his receiver. “I just know where I’m gonna put it.”
For Dolch, it was a clear example that the gelling his quarterback and receivers had done had paid off.
“This past month, they’ve really clicked, and now we can attack people on the ground in the air, and it’s made us dangerous,” the coach said.
The Bruins’ attempted response would end in a ball banging off the goalposts. After the Seahawks defense smothered Broadneck’s scoring attempts, several times from just 13 yards out, the Bruins had to settle for a field goal attempt.
Keegan Houser’s 30-yard kick attempt, though, would fly too low for fruition. Without even three points to show, the Bruins continued to trail their guests through the third quarter.
As the buzzer sounded, though, South River was teetering on its largest margin of the night, standing on the Bruins’ 3-yard line.
At the top of the fourth quarter, a delay of game penalty added five yards to South River’s distance, but encroachment on Broadneck erased it. But then, as Foust tried to inch just three yards into the zone, the Bruins defense overpowered him.
No touchdown, no field goal. Nothing.
It had been 10 minutes on the clock since Broadneck’s offense had gotten a chance to run.
“We know how explosive their offense is, and part of our formula was things that we saw on film, we felt we could run the ball successfully, we felt we could throw to the flat successfully,” Dolch said.
“If we could do those things successfully, we could move the chains, keep the clock rolling, keep their dangerous guys on the sidelines.”
But Broadneck’s offense did run, all the way down to the Seahawks’ 19-yard line. Ehrlich mailed the ball directly to Rashid Proctor, who didn’t let the ball fall.
Roars erupted from the Broadneck sideline and bleachers. But it wasn’t a touchdown.
The pass was ruled incomplete, and a play later, the Seahawks had possession again. With the missed chance, Broadneck officially hadn’t scored since well before halftime.
And there wasn’t much time left to change that.
Then, there was nothing left at all, and to that, Dolch thanked his defense.
“[They mixed] up pressures and coverages and keeping their young quarterback off kilter,” he said. “Defense came up huge, especially in the second half.”
After the game, the Broadneck seniors lined up on one side of coach Harris, with the underclassmen on the other. It was roughly half and half.
The younger players embraced their teammates, heavy with emotion, for the last time.