Oakland Mills had a love-hate relationship with fourth downs on Friday.
On one hand, the Scorpions hated the three turnovers on downs in their own territory, including one in the fourth quarter.
On the other, however, there was plenty to love about three fourth-down touchdowns in the red zone — two of which came on fourth-and-long.
In the end, love won out, as quarterback Kanye Holland’s fourth-down heroics propelled the Scorpions to a 26-20 victory over visiting Atholton.
“I always trust my team when it comes to fourth-down conversions,” Holland said. “We get them all the time. All we had to do was execute. I knew my team could get the job done.”
Holland, the centerpiece of coach Tom Browne’s run-heavy offense, ran for 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and added 73 yards and two scores on 6-of-8 passing.
“We put a lot of trust in Kanye,” Browne said. “He can run and he can throw. We don’t throw much, but when we do, he can do it pretty effectively. I can’t say enough about him, but the guys around him are damn good football players as well.”
Both teams entered the contest 3-0, and now the Scorpions join Long Reach (4-0) as the only undefeated teams remaining in Howard County. The 4-0 start is the first for Oakland Mills since 2015.
“What separates this year and the spring is just being around the guys and having an actual offseason,” Browne said. “We have a senior class with guys who have been with the program for three or four years. That senior leadership makes a big difference. The buy-in has been great.”
Holland and the other five weapons in Oakland Mills’ offense, which relies heavily on pre-snap motion to utilize the Scorpions’ speed on the edge, are all members of the school’s track and field team that won a state championship this past spring. Holland, Aki Harvey (six touches for 37 yards), Shane King (five carries for 13 yards), John Tatum (12 rushes for 65 yards), Trevin McHargh (two carries for 10 yards) and Kylik Perry (five receptions for 58 yards) all were key in the Scorps’ state title in June. In total, the Scorpions ran the ball 43 times for 224 yards (5.2 per carry).
“We’ve got people who we won the state track championship with, so we already had chemistry coming into football season,” Holland said. “We’re all on the same page.”
“Their confidence after that state championship in track is crazy high,” Browne said. “They’ve always been a tight-knit group, but those five guys who run track and also play football are all best friends. That helps.”
Oakland Mills scored on its first drive of the game. Tatum broke off a 31-yard run on the first play, and Holland connected with Harvey for a 15-yard touchdown on fourth-and-9. Holland rolled out to his right and threw a perfect pass in the back right corner of the end zone to Harvey for the 6-0 lead. While the Oakland Mills offense focuses on the run, Holland’s passing ability is a step up from what the Scorpions have had in recent years.
Atholton (3-1) took a 7-6 lead in the second quarter with a 4-yard run from running back Dillan Watkins. The bruising running back totaled 61 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.
The Raiders had a chance to score right before halftime, but two costly penalties hampered the drive. Atholton had the ball on the 1-yard line on third down, but Oakland Mills stuffed a fullback dive and then forced an incompletion from the 11 after two false start penalties.
“To have them go four-and-out from the 1[-yard line] was huge,” Browne said. “The defense bailed us out in the first half. We were shooting ourselves in the foot offensively. In high school, to get a stop on the 1 almost never happens in high school.”
On the third play of the second half, Harvey intercepted an Atholton pass to give the Scorpions a short field. Holland then ran for 13-yard touchdown on fourth-and-4 — and converted the two-point conversion — to give the Scorps a 14-7 lead.
The Raiders responded on the ensuing kickoff with a 70-yard return from Tyreek Reid to set up a 5-yard rushing score from Watkins. Oakland Mills’ Charles Ngansi blocked the kick to keep the Scorps on top, 14-13.
Oakland Mills took a 20-13 lead on its next possession with an eight-play, 63-yard drive. The third and final fourth-down touchdown from Holland was a 12-yard pass to Perry on fourth-and-10 late in the third quarter.
Tatum then gave the Scorps a 26-13 lead with a 3-yard rushing touchdown with eight minutes remaining.
Atholton quarterback Harrison Feldman, who has split time with Miles Scott all season, drove down field in three minutes, including four completions to wideout Kevin Smitson, to bring the Raiders within six points. Watkins capped off the scoring drive with a 2-yard plunge.
But after the Raiders defense forced a turnover on downs on Oakland Mills’ next drive, Atholton coach Eric Woodson continued his quarterback rotation and put Scott back into the game. The Scorpions defense stepped up once again, like it had done at the end of the first half, and forced a four-and-out to seal the victory.
“I’ve been [rotating the quarterbacks] since 7-on-7s. I have confidence in both quarterbacks. Both are phenomenal quarterbacks. It just didn’t work out for us tonight,” Woodson said. “This was a tough loss on the road, but it’s going to humble us. We’ve got to come back and work a little harder at practice.”
Oakland Mills 26, Atholton 20
A — 0 7 6 7 — 20
OM — 6 0 14 6 — 26
OM: Aki Harvey 15-yard pass from Kanye Holland, kick no good [6-0]
A: Dillan Watkins 4-yard run, Banna Araya kick [7-6]
OM: Holland 13-yard run, Holland run [14-7]
A: Watkins 5-yard run, kick blocked [14-13]
OM: Kylik Perry 12-yard pass from Holland, kick blocked [20-13]
OM: John Tatum 3-yard run, run failed [26-13]
A: Watkins 2-yard run, Araya kick [26-20]
OTHER FOOTBALL SCORES:
River Hill 14, Mt. Hebron 6
Devron Johnson intercepted a pass in the end zone with 11 seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Hawks. Bergen Remick and Nico Lancashire both ran for first-half touchdowns to give River Hill (3-1) a 14-0 lead at halftime.
For Mt. Hebron (2-2), Drew Peperone rushed for a 4-yard score in the third quarter to bring the Vikings within a score of the perennial powerhouse. Despite the loss, the game is the Vikings’ closest against the Hawks in at least the last 15 years. Since 2007, Mt. Hebron hasn’t beaten or come within under 20 points of beating River Hill, as the Hawks have won the contests by an average of 40.5 points. The Vikings’ last win over River Hill was in 2003.
MH — 0 0 6 0 — 6
RH — 7 7 0 0 — 14
RH: Bergen Remick 1-yard run, Poojan Patel kick [7-0]
RH: Nico Lancashire 8-yard run, Patel kick [14-0]
MH: Drew Peperone 4-yard run, run failed [14-6]
Glenelg 47, Centennial 6
Bisi Owens accounted for five touchdowns in his second straight game to lead Glenelg (3-1) to a blowout victory over visiting Centennial (0-4). Owens ran for 128 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries and added 131 yards and two scores on 9-of-15 passing. Christian Chen caught both of Owens’ touchdown passes, while Ethan Sotka also led the run game with 77 yards on nine rushes. The longest play of the game was a 60-yard kickoff return touchdown by Will Piwowarski. Leading the Gladiators’ defense, Zach Dubois and John Masterman each had an interception.
C — 0 6 0 0 — 6
G — 26 14 7 0 — 47
G: Christian Chen 11-yard pass from Bisi Owens, Michael Fernandes kick [7-0]
G: Owens 17-yard run, Fernandes kick [14-0]
G: Fernandes 29-yard field goal [17-0]
G: Michael Robbins and Chen blocked punt safety [19-0]
G: Will Piwowarski 60-yard kickoff return, Fernandes kick [26-0]
G: Chen 10-yard pass from Owens, Fernandes kick [33-0]
G: Owens 1-yard run, Fernandes kick [40-0]
G: Owens 21-yard run, Fernandes kick [47-6]
Long Reach 21, Howard 17
The Lightning came back from down 10 points late in the third quarter to earn the victory over their rivals. Julius Saunders ran for two 1-yard touchdowns — one to give Long Reach (4-0) an early 7-0 lead and the second to bring the Lightning’s deficit to 17-14 with 13 minutes remaining in the game. With two minutes remaining, quarterback Alexander Coffey’s 43-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Etheridge ultimately won the game for the visiting Lightning.
The victory is Long Reach’s first over their nearby rival since 2010, when the Lightning won 34-32. Howard (2-2) had won the previous 10 matchups by an average margin of 17.3 points. To lead the Lions on Friday were quarterback Tyler Sabatini and wideout Ty Gore, who connected on touchdown passes from 5 and 43 yards out.
The 4-0 start for Long Reach is the program’s first since 2016 when the Lightning started 7-0. Along with Oakland Mills, Jamie Willis’ squad is one of two undefeated teams left in Howard County.
LR — 7 0 7 7 — 21
Ho — 0 7 10 0 — 17
LR: Julius Saunders 1-yard run, Rodrigo Rodriguez kick [7-0]
Ho: Ty Gore 5-yard pass from Tyler Sabatini, Mitchell Dickson kick [7-7]
Ho: Gore 43-yard pass from Sabatini, Dickson kick [14-7]
Ho: Dickson 24-yard field goal [17-7]
LR: Saunders 1-yard run, Rodriguez kick [17-14]
LR: Jaylen Etheridge 43-yard pass from Alexander Coffey, Rodriguez kick [21-17]
Wilde Lake 28, Hammond 0
Kofi Boampong threw for two touchdowns and ran for another against Hammond (1-3) in the Wildecats’ first win of the season. Sean Barnes also led the Wilde Lake (1-3) offense with a receiving score and a 38-yard rushing touchdown. Jordan Garnett kicked off the game’s scoring with a safety in the second quarter.
Ha —0 0 0 0 — 0
WL — 0 21 0 7 — 28
WL: Jordan Garnett safety [2-0]
WL: Enosh Minney 16-yard pass from Kofi Boampong, conversion failed [8-0]
WL: Sean Barnes 9-yard pass from Boampong, Elijah Queen kick [15-0]
WL: Boampong 6-yard run, kick no good [21-0]
WL: Barnes 38-yard run, Queen kick [28-0]
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