Harford Tech senior running back Kelvin Mendez rushed for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns Friday night to lead the Cobras past visiting Largo, 42-6, in a Class 2A/1A state quarterfinal.
“Everyone’s hearts were in it tonight, everyone put in,” Mendez said. “It was not just a one-man show, it was an everybody show.”
And that show got started early.
The Cobras’ Andrew Lane recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff, but the Lions (8-4) blocked a field-goal attempt.
Harford Tech (9-1) was much more efficient with its next possession. From the Largo 45-yard line, Mendez reeled off a 43-yard run on first down to the Largo 2.
It took three tries, but Mendez scored from 3 yards out to take the lead. Parker Milton’s extra-point try was blocked, but the Cobras were up 6-0 with 4:10 left in the first quarter.
The Cobras were back in the end zone in the final minute of the first quarter. Mendez ran 28 yards on a draw play to erase third-and-14, and three snaps later, he ran 16 yards for his second touchdown. Milton’s extra point made it 13-0.
Tech scored two more times in the second quarter to build a 27-0 halftime lead.
An interception by Junior Aderomilehin set up the next Tech score. He picked off the tipped pass and a short return set the Cobras up at the Lions’ 40. Five of Tech’s nine possessions started in Largo’s end of the field.
A false start moved the Cobras back 5 yards, but Mendez ran 13 yards to set up Milton’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Mendez with 7:04 to play in the half. Milton added the extra point.
The Cobras were back in the end zone nearly five minutes later. Kelvin Mendez completed his three-touchdown night with a 20-yard run and finished the game with 236 yards on 25 carries.
“Everybody was all in during the week and I felt that we would play well. I thought there were some things that we could take advantage of,” Cobras coach Tim Palmer said. “We stuck to the plan and it seemed to work. Just proud of everybody, from the coaching staff to the last man on the roster. They are dead-set on getting to Annapolis.”
The Cobras wasted little time scoring more points in the third quarter. Kevin Mendez ran 18 yards for a touchdown and Milton added the 2-point conversion for a 35-point lead, which started the running clock with 8:39 to play in the third quarter.
The Cobras’ final points came early in the fourth quarter. Kelvin Mendez totaled 45 yards on seven straight carries, setting up Milton’s 1-yard keeper. Milton‘s final extra-point gave Tech a 42-0 lead.
The Lions avoided the shutout with an 11-play drive. Quarterback Justin McEilwain ran for a 3-yard touchdown on the game’s final play to finish with 55 yards on nine carries, while running back Michael Bellamy added 41 yards on 12 carries.
“It was tough. We had some special team plays that didn’t really go in our favor early and it put us in a hole field position wise and its tough to climb back in a game like this in this great atmosphere they had down here,” Lions coach Derron Thomas said. “It was a learning experience for us. I’m proud of my kids this year. We’ll definitely learn from this and we’ll be back here in the future.”
Tech will play at South Carroll in next week’s state semifinal. The game is scheduled for Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.
Perryville 14, Brunswick 3
The Panthers (7-4) advanced in 1A play with a win over the visiting Railroaders (7-5).
Perryville will travel to Mountain Ridge for next week’s state semifinal. Game time is 7 p.m. on Nov. 26.
Fort Hill 54, Joppatowne 0
The Mariners (5-5) saw their season end with a loss to the host Sentinels (10-0) in 1A action.