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Howard football falls to Old Mill, 10-3, in 4A state semifinals

ELLICOTT CITY, MD — The Howard defense stopped Old Mill running back Donovan Franklin 20 times for 2 yards or less in Friday night's 4A state semifinal. However, it took only one carry, a 45-yard touchdown run four minutes into the third quarter, to make the difference in Old Mill's 10-3 victory.
 
The Patriots (11-2) will face Northwest (12-1) next Friday night at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore for the state championship.

"They were everything as advertised," Old Mill coach Chad McCormick said of his opponent. "We're a very good defensive team and they were as well. That's a hard-hitting football team out there. That was a battle out there on the field and there are going to be some sore young men tomorrow after this one."
 
Franklin finished the game with 170 yards on 30 carries, and 156 of those yards came on six big plays.

"Xs and Os, sometimes they work well. (On the touchdown run) they worked well," McCormick said. "Sometimes you dial it up and the other team just makes good football plays."
 
Howard's special teams recovered an Old Mill fumble on the 25-yard line on the opening kickoff, and recovered another loose ball inside the 25 on a punt return early in the fourth quarter. But those two opportunities yielded only a Jon Gould 22-yard field goal early in the fourth.

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"Our defense has been this way the entire season. They're just dialed up to bend but not break. They got after the quarterback, they did a real good job against a power run team," said McCormick, whose team has had seven shutouts this season.

Christian Dargan intercepted an Old Mill pass at Howard's 10-yard line late in the second quarter, giving the Lions a 3-0 advantage on turnovers.

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"We had some special teams blunders but our defense bailed us out," McCormick said. "Kids make mistakes, but those kids bounced back and made good football plays the rest of the game."
 
The game was scoreless until the last play of the first half, when Old Mill kicker Chris Walker connected on a 25-yard field goal try.
 
"We had two teams that are very similar, and both teams played very good defense," said Howard coach Bruce Strunk, whose team finishes the season 12-1 after winning a regional title for the first time since 1999. "One big play and they got the three points right before the half. It's the state semifinals and it's tough football."

Senior Najee Savage led the Howard offense with 91 yards on 24 carries.

Once the Lions fell behind, they tried to jumpstart the offense with the passing game, but the Patriots succesfully defended 19 of Howard's 28 pass attempts. Howard senior quarterback Kevin Sheahin completed nine passes for 91 yards in the game, with junior Malik Anderson (4 catches, 42 yards) as his top receiver.

"They've got a great athlete over there in Malik Anderson ... we knew if we were going to lock up one-on-one with him outside, we had to get pressure on the quarterback. It all starts there. We were in the quarterback's face the whole day and got a couple of good hits on him," Old Mill senior linebacker Noah Fitzgerald said. "We knew if he was throwing off of his back foot, our defense would be at a good advantage."

The Howard defense was also stout. This was only the second time this season that Old Mill was held to only one touchdown, and Howard held Old Mill to 270 yards of total offense.

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"Most games this year that would have been enough, and it wasn't," Strunk said. "I'm not going to say our offense wasn't clicking because they were over there playing defense. There's a reason why they had a bunch of shutouts this year."

The Lions allowed an average of only 5.5 points per game this fall.

"We did a spectacular job. We made history," said Howard senior defensive end Winston Delattiboudere. "In the end it was a heartbreaker … I'm going to remember these coaches and all of these guys who made me a better player. No matter where I go to school next year I'm never going to forget these guys."
 
OM (11-2) 0 3 7 0 - 10
Ho (12-1) 0 0 0 3 – 3
 
Second quarter
OM: Walker 25 field goal, :01. [3-0]
 
Third quarter
OM: Franklin 45 run (Walker kick), 8:07. [10-0]
 
Fourth quarter
Ho: Gould 22 field goal, 8:49. [10-3]

Statistical breakdown

Leading rushers¿
OM: Donovan Franklin, 30 carries, 170 yards, TD; David Marrocco, 8-28; James Venerable, 3-26; Team, 41-224, TD.
Ho: Najee Savage, 24-91; Malik Anderson, 4-25; Team, 28-116.

Leading passers
¿OM: David Marrocco, 4/10, 46, INT.
Ho: Kevin Sheahin, 9/28, 91.

Leading receivers¿

OM:

Brady Ludwig, 2 catches, 32 yards; Trevor Randolph. 1-8; Donovan Franklin, 1-6.

Ho:

Malik Anderson, 4-42; Christian Dargan, 1-19; Nick Saunders, 1-13; Nick Sheahin, 1-10; Vandon Vale, 2-7.

Leading punters
OM: Brady Ludwig, 6 punts, 235 yards, 39.2 average.
Ho: Jon Gould, 8-265 (33.1).

Penalties
¿OM: 6-30.
Ho: 7-55.

First downs
¿OM: 12
Ho: 10

Third-down efficiency
¿OM: 4/12
Ho: 3/15

Fourth-down efficiency¿
OM: 1/2
Ho: 0/3

Turnovers
OM: 3
Ho: 0

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