If Eastern Vo-Tech could get back one play from yesterday's 14-0 loss at No. 8 Perry Hall, there would be no confusion on which play to retrieve.
Mark Franklin's 49-yard run to the visitors' 2-yard line set up Perry Hall's first touchdown and broke a scoreless tie that had lasted 44 minutes, 27 seconds. Franklin found the end zone on the next play, and the Gators' defense held the Mavericks on their ensuing possession to preserve the victory and move them one game away from earning a Class 4A, Region II playoff berth.
"That one play killed us," said EVT coach Jim Salters. "We felt like we could beat them because I don't think they're that good. We've played teams as good or better than that. It just wasn't meant to be. You have to be consistent and we weren't."
On the contrary, Eastern Vo-Tech's defense was consistently on the field in the first half. Perry Hall's offense picked up 124 yards on 33 running attempts before the half, while the Mavericks gained only 64 yards on 18 plays.
Perry Hall (8-1, 6-1) worked its way to the Mavericks' 19-yard-line on its first possession before turning the ball over on downs.
EVT's offense lost two fumbles in the first half, but drove to the Perry Hall 9-yard line in the waning seconds of the period, only to have time run out.
Eastern Vo-Tech (5-4, 5-3) came out throwing in the third quarter and nearly caught the Gators' secondary asleep on the opening play. However, Eric Nessercola's pass to a wide-open John Dolly was too deep, and the Mavericks eventually were forced to punt.
Behind the running of Franklin (23 carries, 137 yards), Mandel Marsh (19, 92) and fullback Brian Smith (7, 35), the Gators continued to move the ball in the second half, but still couldn't score.
"We should have scored in the first half," said Franklin, who added a second touchdown run from 2 yards with 50 seconds left. "Actually, we should have blew this team out.
Perry Hall coach Joe Stoy wouldn't go that far and even credited EVT for his team's scoring drought.
"In the first half, we would drive the ball and just stall and they played good defense and stopped us," said Stoy, whose team will face Dulaney in next week's regular-season finale. "We drove the ball down in the third quarter and stalled out again and finally broke the big play in the fourth quarter.
"But our defense played real well and we scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. It was a fourth-quarter game."