Perry Hall coach Joe Stoy may have Debra Marsh to thank for this one. Her son, Mandel, rushed for the 148 yards and a touchdown and had an interception to set up another score as No. 12 Perry Hall upset No. 6 South River, 26-7, yesterday.
A knee injury forced Marsh, a junior, to the bench for the entire second half of last week's 2-0 upset of then-No. 3 Woodlawn.
But thanks to some tender loving care from his mother all week, the 5-foot-8, 156-pounder showcased his speed before Perry Hall's boisterous Homecoming crowd.
"My mom sat me down, soaked it in ice, and we continually worked on it," said Marsh, who sprinted 28 yards for the Gators' final touchdown -- his fifth of the season -- with 1:39 left.
"I came to practice fired up on Monday. There was no way I was going to miss Homecoming."
Marsh and junior fullback Mark Franklin (15 carries for 86 yards) ran behind their line of co-captains Charles Adams (6-foot-5, 299 pounds) and Joe Brogley (6-0, 259), as well as Danny Hampton (6-0, 220) and Ryan Pancake (6-2, 180).
"We just used our speed in the backfield and our blocking," sai Stoy, whose Gators (6-1) kept their Class 4A Region II playoff hopes alive. "Our backs read the blocks real well."
Stoy was wary of South River receiver Jason Fullmer, a 6-foot-6, two-event hurdles state champion, and 6-2 Russell Tongue, who has six touchdowns, but his defensive backs had them covered. Quarterback Greg Avery had passed for 403 yards and five touchdowns, but went 0-for-8 with two interceptions yesterday.
"We thought they'd come out throwing the ball more, so that surprised me," Stoy said. "But our secondary did a good job."
It was the fifth straight win for the Gators since losing, 8-7, to Parkville, and the second loss for South River (5-2), which also lost, 21-15, to Class 3A state champion Linganore.
Although the Seahawks had their second-best rushing game (227 yards) behind Jaron Hairston (six carries, 60 yards), Craig Hopkins (10, 73) and Joey Renoe (eight, 57), coach Dave Summey said, "We shot ourselves in the foot on a couple of occasions," allowing four promising drives to stall in Perry Hall territory.
On one drive in the third quarter, Marsh intercepted Avery at the Perry Hall 34 and went out of bounds at the South River 47. Nine plays later, the Gators led, 19-0, with 1:35 left in the period after Franklin scored his seventh touchdown from 3 yards.
The Seahawks scored with 9:48 left on Avery's 2-yard keeper. He capped a 13-play, 94-yard march, and Karl Baranek's extra-point kick made it 19-7. South River threatened again, but an interception by Gators co-captain Jeff Burrows with 5:19 left ended the Seahawks' drive at the Perry Hall 40. Four plays later, Marsh's touchdown on an option pitch left, followed by Jason Bloom's kick, ended the scoring.
"What's frustrating is we had plenty of time to win after we scored," said Summey said. "We just weren't making the plays."
Severn 54, Curley 0
Running back Jamand Mack, who suffered a season-ending broken leg against Curley last year, rushed for three touchdowns and 150 yards on nine carries, leading the Admirals (7-0, 4-0) over Curley (0-5, 0-4) in a Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference game.
Mack, who now has 1,036 yards this season on 113 attempts, also excelled on special teams, returning punts for 40 and 71 yards.
St. Paul's 35, Spalding 0
Joe Unitas had two defensive touchdowns, as St. Paul's (6-0, 4-0) maintained a share of first place in the MSA C Conference with its victory over visiting Archbishop Spalding (1-5, 0-4).
Unitas, a senior defensive end, opened the scoring with a 26-yard interception return in the first quarter. Later in the quarter, he returned a Spalding fumble 36 yards, extending the Crusaders' lead to 14-0.