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The Aegis Sports

Harford Tech football avenges last year’s loss with 14-7 win over South Carroll in Class 2A/1A state quarterfinals

Jamaal Pearl showed a calmness after his football team’s 14-7 victory over host South Carroll in the Class 2A/1A state quarterfinals Friday night. It hid the fact that he and his Harford Tech teammates had been in a battle.

The visiting Cobras (8-4) used Pearl’s 161 yards on 31 carries and an incredibly stingy defense to advance to next weekend’s state semifinals, where they will play at Patuxent in Calvert County.

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The Cavaliers (10-2) were led by A.J. Rodrigues’ 63 yards on 21 carries.

Harford Tech's Troy Wallace Jr., right, celebrates a touchdown run with teammate Karon Evans during a Class 2A/1A football state quarterfinal game at South Carroll on Friday.

“Chalk another one up to our defense,” Harford Tech coach Tim Palmer said. “I don’t know if you remember, but we were here last year and lost a chance to go to the state championship. To come out here after what happened last year is pretty amazing.”

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After both teams had drives stall on their first two possessions, the Cobras got on the board first. Taking over at their own 34, Harford Tech cobbled together a six-play drive to take the lead, with the biggest play ending up in the end zone. With the ball at the Cavaliers’ 42-yard line, quarterback Thomas Smith hit Karon Evans with a 10-yard pass across the middle of the field. Smith did the rest, darting down the right sideline to put Harford Tech up 7-0 with 1:32 left in the first quarter.

South Carroll tried to move the ball in the second quarter, but was continually turned away by an aggressive Cobras defense. Two drives ended in interceptions by defensive back Matayo McGraw, including one on the last play of the half.

South Carroll running back Jackson Shekore is tackled in the backfield for a loss by Harford Tech's Joseph Kanner and Jacob Walker, left, during a 2A/1A football state quarterfinal game at South Carroll High School on Friday.

Harford Tech mounted an impressive drive in their first possession of the second half, but this time it was the Cavaliers’ defense that made the big play. The Cobras got a 51-yard run by Pearl that appeared to be headed for the end zone before he was chased down from behind by South Carroll’s Nate Boore, who made a shoestring tackle at the 14-yard line. The Cobras tried a 36-yard field goal by kicker Caleb Hamilton, but the ball sailed wide right.

Harford Tech expanded the lead with 1:52 left in the game. After a heavy dose of Pearl, Palmer turned to Troy Wallace Jr., who took a handoff at the Harford Tech 34-yard line and took off down the sideline to the Cavaliers’ 8. He finished the scoring drive on the next play, giving Harford Tech a 14-0 lead.

“The coaches believed in me, and I got my shot and I made the most of it,” Wallace said. “We needed some fresh legs in there, and they called my number.”

South Carroll got the ball back and drove 65 yards in eight plays to cut the lead in half. The drive, which was aided by two pass interference calls, culminated in a Drake Hebron reception of a Carter Mazalewksi pass with 37 seconds remaining.

The Cobras’ Jacob Walker recovered the ensuing onside kick and Harford Tech ran the clock out.

“We knew it was going to be a tough football game. We made too many mistakes,” Cavaliers coach Mike Kraus said. “We didn’t lay a very solid first half like I expected, and getting down by a score didn’t help. They played a good football game. They had some adjustments they made to our offense that we didn’t plan for, and what we did plan for we didn’t execute.”

Harford Tech's Joseph Kanner celebrates the team's 14-7 win over South Carroll during a 2A/1A football state quarterfinal game at South Carroll High School on Friday.

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