Passing plays weren’t banned prior to kickoff between Glenelg and Oakland Mills, whether or not it seemed that way Friday night.
In a game with only three downfield pass attempts, Glenelg’s Kyle Dry led the Gladiators to a 28-14 victory over host Oakland Mills. Dry used his speed and shifty running style to total 183 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
“Kyle is a stud,” said Glenelg head coach Tim Cullen. “He’s our bellcow. With Adrian (Russell) being out, guys are stepping up. Whether it’s Kyle or Trisden or Mason running the ball, we know we have guys who can do it. We can rely on the offensive line and get it done.”
The turning point of the game was Dry’s 66-yard dash late in the second half to give the Gladiators a 14-7 lead at halftime. Prior to the touchdown, the Scorpions had capped off a 15-play touchdown drive to tie the game and shift momentum. Two plays later, Dry’s long touchdown run, during which the senior broke a tackle and outran the Scorpions’ defensive backs, shifted momentum back in Glenelg’s favor at halftime.
“Kyle is an awesome player,” said senior tight end/linebacker Drew Sotka. “He might be small, but he can grind out those yards in the A gap, and he has the capability of busting a long one every time.”
Glenelg improved to 3-0 in Howard County play and 4-2 overall with the road victory. The Gladiators have county triumphs over Marriotts Ridge, Howard and Oakland Mills, as well as a 1-2 record against a difficult non-county schedule.
“We’re a gritty team,” Dry said. “Every game has come down to the wire so far. We’ve played probably the hardest schedule out of anyone in the county. We’re grinding it out, game by game.”
Glenelg drew first blood in the contest at Oakland Mills (4-2, 4-2). After forcing the Scorpions to punt on the opening drive of the game, the Gladiators took only four plays to score. Senior tight end Drew Sotka took an H-back counter 37 yards for a touchdown to give the Gladiators the early lead. Sotka would later catch a touchdown pass and make several key plays on defense.
“When you have a tight end who can run block and can catch passes, it’s very dangerous,” Cullen said. “He’s a great weapon.”
Oakland Mills’ game plan coming into the game was to win the possession battle and kill the clock. On the Scorpions’ first scoring drive, they did exactly that. Quarterback Kai Castle orchestrated a 15-play touchdown drive that started on Oakland Mills’ 17-yard line and used up 8:29 of clock in the second quarter. Castle, who totaled 172 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, capped off the long drive with a 5-yard score.
“He’s going to get his plays,” Cullen said of Castle. “Our goal was to make them sustain a long drive and not let him break a big one. He’s a stud.”
Browne introduced a new offensive formation for the game, which threw the Gladiators defense off track on the long touchdown drive and for most of the game. The formation, called “line,” had four Oakland Mills players in the backfield in a horizontal line with seven down linemen. It was mixed in with the Scorpions’ read-option scheme, which utilizes three different players who can take the shotgun snap depending on the play.
“We’re trying to create a numbers advantage anyway we can,” said Oakland Mills head coach Tom Browne. “We’re trying to put little wrinkles in there. It gets a lot of guys to the point of attack.”
After Dry’s long touchdown run put Glenelg up 14-7 at halftime, the Gladiators took a page out of Oakland Mills’ book with a long drive of their own. Dry and fellow running back Trisden Bovello led Glenelg down field, and quarterback Mason Davis shocked the Scorpions with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Sotka. The pass was the third and final dropback for Davis on the night and the first downfield pass attempt he had in the game. The score capped off a 14-play, 67-yard drive that killed seven minutes off the clock and put Glenelg up 21-7.
Oakland Mills responded quickly, however, with an eight-play, 79-yard touchdown drive of its own. Castle scored on a 36-yard read-option keeper, as the senior ran untouched through the middle of the Glenelg defense to bring the Scorpions within one score.
The Oakland Mills defense then got the stop it needed, forcing a Glenelg punt and giving the ball to its offense with about 10 minutes remaining. Castle was stopped short on a fourth-and-two run, though, and Glenelg regained possession.
“Our guys played their tails off on both sides of the ball,” Browne said. “Their defense came up big when they needed them to. We had a fourth-and-(short), and we couldn’t get it.”
After Davis gained a first down on a quarterback sneak by the nose of the football, Dry scored his second touchdown of the game — this one a toss that he took 28 yards for the score.
Defensive back Cooper Sancomb sealed the victory for Glenelg with an interception in the end zone with about 1:30 left.
“Oakland Mills is a helluva football team,” Cullen said. “We may see them again (in the playoffs). They played hard as heck.”