On the final play of his team's 12-3 Howard County victory yesterday over Atholton, Oakland Mills linebacker Jake Daft frustrated quarterback Jason Albert with another sack.
That dominating style of defense, coupled with running back Damion Smith's 212 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, lifted Oakland Mills to its second consecutive win after five losses.
Oakland Mills (2-5, 2-1 in the county) has defeated Atholton (2-5, 1-3) four consecutive years, using its homecoming game to deliver the blow this season.
Atholton's run-and-shoot offense was no match for Oakland Mills. An aggressive Scorpions defense sacked Albert seven times for 43 yards and limited Atholton to 112 yards. The Raiders crossed midfield just once -- late in the fourth period -- after kicking a field goal on their opening possession.
"Our defense was very effective," said Oakland Mills defensive end Wade McHargue. "Today, everybody was shooting the gaps really well and getting into the backfield. There was a lot of intensity and we were quick off the ball.
McHargue, an imposing lineman at 6 feet 7, and Daft recorded two sacks apiece. Tackles Alex Somarriba and Steve Coley and end Eric Goodwin accounted for the rest.
Smith, who rushed for touchdowns of 3 yards in the first half and 71 in the second, put on a near repeat of last week, when he rushed 46 times for 167 yards and scored the winning touchdown in Oakland Mills' 13-7 double-overtime win over Centennial.
"When the game first started, [the Raiders] were hitting," Smith said. "But [backs] Josh Daft and Ricky Leon were opening holes, and once they did that, I knew it was my job to bounce off and take it to the outside."
Smith did that on the Scorpions' first possession. Rushing five times for 59 yards in a 66-yard march, he followed lead blocks by Leon and Derick Brooks into the end zone, providing Oakland Mills with a 6-0 edge 2 1/2 minutes into the game.
Smith began the drive with a 10-yard gain. Daft, also a fullback, added another 10, and Smith's 39-yard burst over right tackle set up a first down at the 10. Three plays later, he scored. Chad Fekel hooked the extra point.
Atholton's lone score came seven minutes later. In nine plays, the Raiders -- accompanied by a fourth-and-3 conversion -- drove 65 yards to the 1. Oakland Mills' defense stiffened, and Chris Buscher drilled a 20-yard field goal.
Atholton gained 69 first-half yards, 61 alone on its scoring drive.
Smith scored again midway through the third period. On a third-and-7, he turned the right corner on a pitch-out, ran into a cluster of defenders and cut back left for his 71-yard scamper. Fekel missed the conversion and Oakland Mills' 12-3 edge remained intact.
Before the game, Oakland Mills coach Ken Klock tried to motivate his squad by unveiling new bright orange jerseys with names on the back. He and the players conceded that it worked.
"When the coaches came in with the jerseys, that gave us more motivation to play smash-face football," Smith said.
Klock said: "We beat two teams that are probably going to have a lesser record in the county. We're going to have to play a lot better to beat a [team such as] Howard."