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Football: Francis Scott Key can’t hold lead in opener, Poly prevails

Francis Scott Key built a double-digit lead against Poly in the first quarter Friday, and the home team looked to be making a big statement in its season opener.

The Eagles couldn’t hold it, however, and the Engineers rallied for a 34-31 victory to spoil Will Thompson’s first game as FSK’s coach.

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This matchup came together in a hurry – Key was set to play Mount Carmel at Eastern Regional Park, but the game was postponed because the private school didn’t have enough players to field a full roster. School officials found an opponent from Baltimore City, and the Eagles didn’t waste much time putting together a 16-0 lead on two touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions.

The Engineers regrouped behind quarterback Jordan Matthews, who came in for injured starter Cortney Davis and helped his team overtime the deficit. Matthews’ 19-yard touchdown run, on fourth-and-goal, with 4:25 to play, gave Poly a 32-24 lead.

The Engineers converted a two-point play to go up by 10, but Francis Scott Key didn’t go away. The Eagles made it 34-31 with 61 seconds to go on an 11-yard scoring pass from Reese Sauter to Ryan Bennett, and Sauter added a point-after kick.

The onside kick dribbled out of bounds, however, and Poly took over at its own 45. Tykeem Valentine picked up a first down into Eagles territory, and the Engineers escaped.

FSK extended its lead to 24-12 with 8:30 to play in the third, sparked by a Ryan Bennett interception that gave the home team the ball at the Poly 35-yard line. Sophomore running back Bryce Zepp scored on a 15-yard run, and the Eagles converted another two-point play.

Matt Diehl caught the conversion pass in the back of the end zone, but left the game with an apparent left knee injury after being pushed out of bounds. Diehl needed assistance from some teammates getting to the sideline, and sat on a bench with his left knee wrapped for the remainder of the game.

The Engineers got back into the game once their defense stiffened. They stopped FSK on fourth down near midfield with 5:42 to play in the half, then crafted a nine-play, 59-yard drive that ended with Matthews finding Kevin Sherman on a 21-yard touchdown strike.

Poly’s two-point conversion failed, and the visitors led 16-12.

Poly’s first drive stalled at its own 41-yard line, and a bad snap on fourth down gave Francis Scott Key possession deep in Engineers territory. The Eagles needed one play, an 18-yard scamper from Ryan Rill, to go ahead 14-0. Their two-point run was negated on a penalty, but Sauter found Isaac Jones on a trick-play pass for a second try.

FSK took the opening kickoff and put its Wing-T offense on display right away. Sauter, in his first year as starting quarterback, led a 12-play drive that covered 75 yards. And Sauter ended it with a 3-yard push up the middle into the end zone.

The Eagles used five different backs on their first drive, and Diehl led the way with 24 yards on three carries.

Thompson became the 11th coach in Francis Scott Key history back in late February. Thompson replaced Josh Rutter, who led the Eagles for three seasons and guided them to a 6-3 record two years ago. FSK went 4-6 last fall, and Rutter stepped down after the season to pursue other professional interests.

Francis Scott Key hosts Centennial next Friday night.

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