Mason Gavin led South Carroll into a first-and-goal scenario late in Saturday’s game against Winters Mill with the clock winding down and the Cavaliers out of timeouts.

Then, disaster for the Cavs on second down — Gavin turned backward and ran toward the ball as it skidded past him on a botched snap. He fell on it around the 12-yard line, and SC faced third down with time ticking away.


The senior kept his composure on the next play, however, and it wound being the biggest of the game — Gavin avoided pressure from the Falcons’ defense and found Brett Finzel for a touchdown pass with 20 seconds to play. An extra point later, South Carroll led 28-26.

The defense held on Winters Mill’s final possession, and the Cavs (3-2) left Parker Field with a win in their Carroll County Athletic League opener.

Gavin threw three touchdown passes and used his legs on SC’s game-winning drive, one that started on their own 40 with 3:13 to go and the Falcons (1-4, 0-2) leading 26-21. He hooked up with Ryan Gallagher twice for 23 yards, and Dylan O’Neill once for 7 yards, while mixing in some runs to help the Cavs get into Winters Mill territory.

South Carroll faced a first-and-10 from the Falcons’ 20 when Gavin took off along the near sideline. He got the first down and more, leaping over a defender before falling at the 5.

Gavin spiked the ball on first down to stop the clock, then had to gather the loose ball on second down in what seemed like a big break for Winters Mill.

But only for a few seconds.

The Cavaliers’ final points spoiled a solid performance from WM quarterback Alex Barnes, who ran for more than 100 yards and scored three touchdowns. Barnes added a touchdown pass and helped Winters Mill take a 13-0 lead in the second quarter.

His third touchdown run came with 7:27 to play — Barnes converted a fourth-down pass play to keep the drive alive — and put the Falcons ahead by five points. But the lead didn’t last, and WM dropped its fourth game in a row.

Gavin threw his touchdown passes to JJ Blazek, Ryan Gallagher, and Finzel.

Winters Mill broke the scoreless tie with 8 minutes remaining in the first half on its first big fourth-down play of the game.

The Falcons faced third-and-goal from the 20 after some penalties, and Barnes tried to connect with Cayden Beard on a fade to the right side of the end zone. The pass came up incomplete.

So WM’s quarterback went right back to the play on fourth down, and the gamble paid off — Beard hauled in the 20-yard touchdown, and after Mateo Cuenca’s extra point the Falcons led 7-0.

The teams traded scoreless possessions until 2:59 remained in the half, and Barnes used his legs this time for an 8-yard touchdown scamper. South Carroll blocked the point after, but Winters Mill led 13-0.

The Cavaliers had an answer, however.


SC’s offense neared midfield with about 2 minutes remaining when Gavin rolled toward the near sideline and spied Blazek all alone behind WM’s defensive backs. Gavin’s toss found Blazek around the Falcons’ 30-yard line, and Blazek cruised in for a 54-yard score.

Nino Torres’ point after cut Winters Mill’s lead to 13-7.

Gavin came up with a one-handed interception on defense after that, and led the offense into Winters Mill territory before the first half came to an end.

Gavin hooked up with Gallagher for a 25-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter to give the Cavs a 21-20 lead.

And Gallagher ended the game on defense with an interception after Barnes and the Falcons got an untimed play following an SC penalty.

Winters Mill 0 13 7 6 — 26

South Carroll 0 7 14 7 — 28


WM-Cayden Beard 20 pass from Alex Barnes (Mateo Cuenca kick)

WM-Barnes 8 run (kick blocked)

SC-JJ Blazek 54 pass from Mason Gavin (Nino Torres kick)

SC-TJ Hogan 1 run (Torres kick)

WM-Barnes 1 run (Cuenca kick)

SC-Ryan Gallagher 25 pass from Gavin (Torres kick)

WM-Barnes 2 run (conversion failed)

SC-Brett Finzel 12 pass from Gavin (Torres kick)