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Led by Joppatowne's upset over Patterson Mill, three Harford County football teams were first round playoff winners.
Led by Joppatowne's upset over Patterson Mill, three Harford County football teams were first round playoff winners. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)

On a week where Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson ran circles around the the seemingly impenetrable New England Patriots defense, Joppatowne Mariners senior quarterback Alan Brown put on a similar show against the Patterson Mill Huskies Friday night in a Class 1A East first round game.

It was Brown’s three total touchdowns that helped propel the underdog Mariners to a 26-19 win over the Huskies. The win sends the Mariners to Perryville (6-4) for next week’s next round. The Panthers beat visiting Kent County (4-6), 20-7.

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Also in the win column Friday night were Harford Tech and Fallston.

For most of the game, Joppatowne (4-6) bore little resemblance to the team that closed the regular season with a -71 point differential and a 35-14 loss to these same Huskies a week ago.

Brown was a cheat code for most of this game; he kept the Huskies’ defense off balance with his athleticism, his toughness, and his field vision, as he often kept his eyes down the field and whenever the defense snuffed out the initial play call, he kept things alive with his legs and either ran for a first down or found an open receiver.

“He played insane,” Joppatowne senior guard/defensive end Julian Young said. “That’s probably the game of the year for him, just making plays out of nothing. Definitely putting the team on his back and helping us out when we needed him.”

Defensively, the Mariners stifled the Patterson Mill (6-4) run game for most of the night, which forced them to rely heavily on their passing. The Huskies found success there, but constantly digging out of long second and third downs eventually took its toll.

“We made some changes at linebacker,” Joppatowne head coach James Murray said. “We made some adjustments in terms of the scheme with the defensive line and those adjustments seemed to be the key to stopping that run game.”

Early on, it looked as though the Huskies would pick up where they left off in their first match up against the Mariners last week. On the second play of the game, Patterson Mill senior quarterback Nathan Vujanic found senior wideout James Reckard on a quick slant route that Reckard took 62 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

But the Mariners answered back on their second possession with an impressive drive powered by Brown, who flummoxed the Patterson Mill defenders with his arm and his legs. He capped off the 10-play drive by rolling out, reversing course, and throwing a touchdown in the left corner of the end zone to tie the game at 6-6.

After both teams traded some empty possessions, Brown once again got the Mariners’ offense going, leading them on a six-play, 84-yard drive — that was aided by a late hit penalty on Patterson Mill — where he rushed four times, three of them going for first downs and the other being the series-capping touchdown to give Joppatowne the 12-6 lead with 6:33 left in the half (the 2-point conversion was no good).

Following intermission, the Huskies seemed to have figured Brown out; the first Joppatowne drive ended with a three-and-out following two Brown passes that could’ve been picked off. The Huskies offense started to click, too: following the Mariners’ punt, the Huskies embarked on a 10-play drive that concluded with a five-yard run by Vujanic for the touchdown, with the extra point giving them the lead.

But Brown and the Mariners came right back with another long drive that saw the signal caller do things rarely seen outside of a Madden video game. At the 11:06 mark of the fourth quarter, he found senior receiver Jaylen Jones on a go route and placed it right in his hands for the score and the 18-13 lead.

“[Brown] always picks us up when he makes a big play,” Joppatowne senior offensive/defensive tackle Chris Kalambihis said. “We get fired up and play hard for the next couple plays and it turns into something good.”

Then, disaster struck for the Mariners. On a first down carry with 6:26 left in regulation, Patterson Mill senior safety Christian Pross recovered a fumble and returned the ball to the Joppatowne one-yard line. Despite three straight penalties, Vujanic eventually tossed it to Pross — who also plays receiver — for the score and the 19-18 lead.

But the Mariners had the ball and five minutes left, which was more than enough time for Brown to sink the Huskies. It took 12 plays, a lot of dancing in and out of the pocket and a big fourth down conversion, but he got his team to the goal line, where junior Donyell Lyons finished things off with the game-winning touchdown. On the two-point try, Brown went into his bag of tricks again to avert tacklers and extend it to 26-19.

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The Huskies had a chance to potentially send the game to overtime, getting deep into Joppatowne territory, but, fittingly, Vujanic’s pass was picked by Brown to seal it for his team. By that point, the swath of rowdy Patterson Mill supporters were drowned out by the Joppatowne contingent that had plenty to cheer for once time expired.

Cougars advance

Fallston (5-5) advanced in 1A East, winning at Colonel Richardson (5-5), 46-32. It is Fallston’s first playoff win since 2013.

Running back CJ Turner led the Cougars, rushing for well over 100 yards and scoring four touchdowns on the ground. Turner also scored a fifth touchdown through the air.

Brandon Klaben also had a receiving touchdown and Cougars kicker Kevin Roberts was good on two field goal attempts.

The Cougars will travel to Cambridge-South Dorchester in next week’s next round. The Vikings (8-2) took advantage of seven Havre de Grace (2-8) turnovers en route to an 47-34 win. The loss ends a four-year run into the state semifinals for the Warriors.

Cobras advance

Harford Tech (9-1) advanced in 2A East with a 32-23 win over visiting Easton (6-4). The Cobras will travel to North Caroline (10-0) next week. The Bulldogs defeated Kent Island (6-4), 35-13, Friday.

Rams, Mustangs out

Both Edgewood and C. Milton Wright were both eliminated from 3A North play after lopsided shutout losses.

Edgewood (5-5) lost at Franklin (8-2), 54-0, while CMW (5-5) lost at Dundalk (7-3), 33-0.

Aegis sports editor Randy McRoberts contributed to this article.

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