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River Hill football holds on to beat Reservoir in regional semifinal

CLARKSVILLE, MD — River Hill football coach Brian Van Deusen didn't care how his team won in Friday night's 3A East regional semifinal game against Reservoir, just as long as his Hawks won.

After losing three straight games to end the regular season, including a 14-13 loss at Reservoir last week, the Hawks — who have won more than 100 games and four state titles since their first state finals appearance in 2006 — were starving for a victory.

River Hill (8-3) got what it needed Friday night against visiting Reservoir (5-6), holding on for a 28-26 win to advance to next the 3A East regional championship next week against Glenelg.

"We weren't happy with the way we finished the season obviously, but the playoffs come and it's a clean slate. We still did enough early in the season to get the one-seed, so everything is still ahead of us," Van Deusen said. "It wasn't pretty tonight, but Reservoir is a good team … we had some tough games there but at least we've got the momentum back now and we're headed in the right direction."

Reservoir struck first with an 8-yard run by Craig Jones (15 carries, 107 yards) four minutes into the game, but the Hawks answered with 14 unanswered points before the end of the first quarter, on a 26-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Noah Thyberg (5/7, 79 yards, 2 TDs) to senior Jon Kanda, and a 68-yard run up the middle of the field by sophomore Brady Daniel. Freshman kicker Cooper McGeehan was 4-for-4 on extra points in the game.

Daniel, whose older brother Cory was a two-time first-team all-county football selection and is now a wrestler at the University of North Carolina, rushed for a game-high 162 yards on 21 carries, and had two catches for 21 yards.

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"We needed this win to advance, and that's what we got," Brady Daniel said. "We just had to keep our heads up and keep looking forward ... I like to say that I've stepped up."

The Hawks expanded their lead early in the second quarter on a 5-yard run untouched into the end zone by Kanda (19 carries, 118 yards; 2 catches, 44 yards) though Reservoir responded less than a minute later on a 61-yard scoring strike from senior Jack Barry to senior Matt Marsh.

River Hill scored once more 25 seconds before half time on a 14-yard pass from Thyberg to junior Trey Simpson.

The second half was all Reservoir though.

The Gators — who have now made the playoffs three seasons in a row — made it a one-score game with 15 seconds left in the third quarter, when junior Barry Carter Jr. (7 carries, 30 yards) plunged into the end zone from three yards out. Barry followed with a  quarterback keeper for a successful two-point conversion, making it 28-20.

Then, with 3:09 left in the game, Barry scrambled and found senior Christian Lyles (3 catches, 62 yards) open for a 41-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion play went awry on the snap, however, and River Hill's first down on a nine-yard run by Kanda with less than a minute to play allowed the Hawks to kneel out the clock.

"The kids are resilient, they overcame some setbacks and they showed it in the second half," said Reservoir coach Bryan Cole, whose team was also knocked out of the playoffs by River Hill last year. "They're a good bunch. I'm going to miss this squad."

Barry, who also plays third base for Reservoir's state championship baseball team, had an excellent game, completing 10 of his 14 pass attempts for 174 yards and two touchdowns.

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"He had some great plays. We had some big third downs, and he put us within two," Cole said. "When you go down by three scores it gets tough against a running offense. We run the ball and they run the ball so the clock just moves."

The Gators had 171 yards of offense in the second half without committing a penalty, while holding River Hill to less than 80 yards.

"This one is going to hurt, but the kids can be proud. I think they showed a lot in the last couple weeks of the season about what they're capable of," Cole said. "I'm very proud of them."

Re (5-6) 6 6 8 6 - 26
RH (8-3) 14 14 0 0 - 28

First quarter
Re: Jones 8 run (kick failed), 7:51. [0-6]
RH: Kanda 26 pass from Thyberg (McGeehan kick), 3:36. [7-6]
RH: Daniel 68 run (McGeehan kick), :40. [14-6]

Second quarter
RH: Kanda 5 run (McGeehan kick), 7:45. [21-6]
Re: Marsh 61 pass from Barry (run failed), 6:48. [21-12]
RH: Simpson 14 pass from Thyberg (McGeehan kick), :25. [28-12]

Third quarter
Re: Carter Jr. 3 run (Barry run), :14. [28-20]

Fourth quarter
Re: Lyles 41 pass from Barry (run failed), 3:09. [28-26]

Glenelg 41, City 12

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The Gladiators (8-3) built a 41-0 halftime lead, cruising to their first playoff victory since 2011.

They advance to face River Hill in next week's regional championship. In Week 1, River Hill beat Glenelg, 15-14.

Last year, Glenelg fell to Reservoir in the regional semifinals.

2A South

Patuxent 60, Oakland Mills 41

Playing in its first playoff game since 2003, Oakland Mills (9-2) raced to a 35-25 halftime lead, but ultimately fell to visiting Patuxent (8-3), which scored 35 unanswered points in the second half.

Scorpions senior quarterback David Pindell (20/33, 300 yards) rushed for 80 yards and three touchdowns, and threw touchdown passes to juniors Tre Hopkins (8 catches, 125 yards) and Shawn Harris (7, 75).

Patuxent senior quarterback Tyler Crounse completed 10 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 150 more and a score. Senior Mike Caputo found the end zone four times in the second half, gaining almost 170 yards on 16 carries.

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