Last night, Old Mill sent a message to the rest of the Anne Arundel 4A League. The Patriots did so by dominating turnover-prone and host Severna Park, 17-14, in one of the most deceiving of final scores in recent county seasons.
No. 6 Old Mill (3-0, 1-0) enjoyed a 10-0 lead before the offense of seventh-ranked Severna Park (1-2, 1-1) even touched the ball. The Patriots were cruising 17-0 (with a 53-19 edge in plays) before the Falcons belatedly came to life.
Severna Park scored on John Jennings' 6-yard run with 8 minutes, 46 seconds to play and on Matt Glenn's 13-yard return of a blocked punt with 23 seconds to go.
However, "we had the game won," said Old Mill coach Pete Regala, whose team defeated Severna Park for the first time since 1985. The Falcons lost to a league team for the first time since 1989 and for only the fifth time in their last 35 outings.
The Patriots also avenged their only loss of last year's regular season, and severely dampened Severna Park's hopes for a fourth county title in five years.
Was it the kind of win that could put Old Mill's program permanently over the hump?
"I think so. I hope so. It was one that we really needed. But even though we're 3-0, it doesn't mean everything right now," Regala said. "There's a long way to go."
With Izzy Deschaine, Billy Reese, Matt O'Donnell and James McAdams sparkling on defense, Severna Park was rationed to 30 total yards in the first two quarters. The Falcons had the ball for only 3:56 before halftime.
Offensively, linemen Mike Mahoney, Melvin Dorsey, Jason Moore and Ernie Longazel led a charge that piled up 143 total yards by halftime and 225 (to Severna Park's 110) for the game.
The prime beneficiary of their work was running back Harold Peters, who carried 18 times for 100 yards in the first half. And it was his 1-yard plunge behind Longazel's block that capped an 11-play, 73-yard march on Old Mill's first possession.
Severna Park's Travis Koballa fumbled on the kickoff -- the first of five turnovers for the Falcons -- and six plays later Steve Oliver kicked a 25-yard field goal for the 10-0 lead.
"The turnovers killed us. If they score, then we score, it's a ballgame," said Severna Park coach Andy Borland.
"We'll just have to win them all," said Borland, whose team did just that after an 0-2 start last year.
"They [Old Mill] didn't do anything we didn't practice for," said Falcons assistant Mike McTammany. "They just slaughtered our offensive line."