The first time Bisi Owens targeted Michael Robbins on Friday, the pass ended in an interception.
Following the first quarter turnover, Owens and the Gladiators ran the ball on 34 straight plays against River Hill. The next time Owens threw the ball, no Hawks player was within 10 yards of Robbins, who caught the deep pass up the seam for a 39-yard touchdown in the final minute of the third quarter.
The score sealed the victory, as the Gladiators went on to defeat the visiting Hawks 21-7. Glenelg (6-1) has now won five straight games since its Week 2 loss to Atholton.
“This is a great team win,” Robbins said. “That loss [to Atholton] left a bad taste in our mouths, and we wanted to get rid of it. We’re just making plays.”
While the touchdown pass to Robbins was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the straw that stirred the drink for Glenelg’s offense was the rushing prowess of Owens and running back Ethan Sotka.
Owens, the leading rusher and touchdown-scorer in the county this fall, ran outside for 124 yards and two first-half touchdowns on 20 carries. Sotka, meanwhile, ran tough up the middle 27 times for 121 yards.
Cullen credited his offensive line play for the dominant rushing performance.
“We’re starting to get on a little bit of a roll up front,” Cullen said. “Coach Hayden [Yerashunas] has been doing an awesome job with the offensive line. We’ve got some young guys playing, so they’re starting to gel.”
Sotka, one of the top rushers in Howard County in his own right, was leaned on a little more than usual against the Hawks, who were focused on trying to stop Owens.
“We know how good of coaches they are, so they’re going to key on Bisi,” Cullen said. “Bisi wasn’t a decoy; he still had 20 carries. But it opened things up for Ethan, and he’s a great running back.”
Owens’ interception, picked off by Hawks junior Matthew Behrmann, came on the first drive of the game. River Hill (4-3) couldn’t capitalize on the early momentum, though, gaining four yards on its following drive.
The Hawks struggled offensively in the first half, gaining 10 yards and one first down via penalty on their 12 plays across three drives.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” said River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen. “They’re playing really well, and they’re a well-coached team. They were beating us up front. That’s what it came down to in the first half.”
Glenelg’s defense is allowing 12.7 points per game this season and has given up only one score in four of its last five games.
“It’s what we’re going to need in a couple weeks if we hopefully make a run in the playoffs,” Cullen said about his defense’s strong play. “Kian Payne stepped up and moved to defensive tackle from inside linebacker, and he was playing lights out. Add Michael Robbins and some other guys, they’re unselfish and playing really well.”
Owens then ran for 2-yard touchdowns on Glenelg’s next two offensive drives to give the Glads a 14-0 halftime lead. The latter score capped off a 13-play, 72-yard drive.
The Hawks started the second half with the ball, but Glenelg forced them to punt after three plays. However, a running into the punter penalty gave the Hawks a second chance, as quarterback Bergen Remick, who was later knocked out of the game for the remainder of the quarter, converted a fourth-and-1 from the team’s 29-yard line.
River Hill then embarked on what ended as a 17-play, 85-yard scoring drive that chewed up nearly nine minutes of clock and saw the Hawks convert on four fourth downs. The final fourth-down conversion was a 28-yard touchdown pass from Eje Okojie to Behrmann. Okojie, who isn’t a quarterback, was filling in for Remick in a Wildcat package. His pass surprised Glenelg’s defense, and his pass fell right into Behrmann’s arms to give the Hawks life.
“To see the guys battle back and put us within a touchdown was good,” Van Deusen said. “We had our second- and third-string quarterbacks, who aren’t quarterbacks, come in and make plays. That got us back in the game.”
The Gladiators didn’t let the Hawks have the momentum for long, though, as Sotka and Owens ran for 40 yards on the offense’s first five plays of the following drive before the touchdown pass to Robbins.
“They really just rushed guys off the edge, and there are fewer guys over the top,” Robbins said. “They were all blitzing. Bisi just lobbed it up, and I was wide open.”
River Hill managed a few first downs on its next drive, but a penalty on third down and back to back incompletions ended any chance of a comeback.
Despite the loss, Van Deusen said he was “proud” of the effort from his players Friday. The Hawks are dealing with several key injuries to multiple two-way players, including four of their five captains.
“We’re just banged up,” Van Deusen said. “Injuries are a part of football. We had guys step up and make plays, and that was good to see.”
Both teams are back in action next Friday. Glenelg plays at Marriotts Ridge (0-6), while River Hill hosts Oakland Mills (6-1).
Glenelg 21, River Hill 7
RH — 0 0 7 0 — 7
G — 7 7 7 0 — 21
G: Bisi Owens 2-yard run, Michael Fernandes kick [7-0]
G: Owens 2-yard run, Fernandes kick [14-0]
RH: Matthew Behrmann 28-yard pass from Eje Okojie, Poojan Patel kick [14-7]
G: Michael Robbins 39-yard pass from Owens, Fernandes kick [21-7]
OTHER FOOTBALL SCORES:
Easton 28, Mt. Hebron 7
Oakland Mills 21, Howard 0
OM — 8 0 6 7 — 21
Ho — 0 0 0 0 — 0
OM: Shane King run, Kanye Holland conversion [8-0]
OM: John Tatum fumble recovery, kick no good [14-0]
OM: Kylik Perry 39-yard pass from Holland, Blake Nguyen kick [21-0]
Long Reach 12, Wilde Lake 0
LR — 12 0 0 0 — 12
WL — 0 0 0 0 — 0
LR: Daniel Ribalta 19-yard pass from Alexander Coffey, kick no good [6-0]
LR: Julius Saunders 28-yard run, kick no good [12-0]
Atholton 33, Marriotts Ridge 14
MR — 7 7 0 0 — 14
A — 7 20 6 0 — 33
Reservoir 13, Centennial 7 (Thursday)
The Gators earned their second straight win with a one-score win over the Eagles (0-7) on Thursday. Will Egan ran for two touchdowns in the first quarter to lead the Gators to victory. After opening the season 0-4, Reservoir (2-4) defeated Hammond 21-20 last week for its first win of the fall.
Re — 13 0 0 0 — 13
C — 0 0 7 0 — 7
Mt. Hebron 2, Hammond 1
The Vikings earned a vital victory on Friday against the host Golden Bears. Ilia Likakis scored the game-winning goal with a few minutes left. Jimmy Linsenmeyer scored Hebron’s first goal on a penalty kick. The win keeps Mt. Hebron (8-1) alone in first place in the county standings. The Vikings have two games remaining on its schedule next week. If they win both, they’ll win the county crown.
Goals: MH — Ilia Likakis, Jimmy Linsenmeyer (PK); Ha — Rony Correa.
Saves: MH — Logan Dunn 13; Ha — Emmanuel Addo 23.
Records: MH 8-1 county, 9-1 overall; Ha 0-10, 1-11.
Atholton 6, Thomas Johnson 1
Records: A 10-0, 11-0.
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