Fallston had one answering salvo for C. Milton Wright, but Chris Gill's second successive kickoff return for a touchdown helped send the unbeaten Mustangs to a 21-6 victory in a Harford County league football game last night in Bel Air.
The victory was the 33rd straight in regular-season play for Wright (10-0, 8-0) and put a dent in the playoff hopes for Fallston (6-4, 5-3). Wright already is assured of playing host to a Class 1A, Region II playoff game next Friday night.
Rain fell for practically the entire game, turning the field into a 100-yard mud puddle.
Even so, it was as though the water-logged field had a narrow strip resembling a lush fairway and Gill turned it into his personal corridor.
The 6-foot-1, 196-pound senior, hampered earlier in the season by a bad ankle, appeared on the mend as he flashed some of last year's speed that made him a 1,000-yard rusher.
He took the opening kickoff and bolted up the middle on a 65-yard scoring run. En route he was knocked off stride by a defender, but managed to regain his balance.
The first of Chris Street's three successful extra points put the home team ahead to stay and completed a regular season of not having been behind in any game.
Fallston had an opportunity to fold when it lost a fumble on its first series and Matt Jenkins recovered for Wright. However, the Cougars showed what got them this far by holding on downs, then going 67 yards in eight plays to score.
Junior quarterback Brad Thomas directed the drive and ended it by diving over from a foot away. Brad Baker's attempted conversion was no good.
The big play was a 35-yard pass-and-run from Thomas to Eran Vanderpool to the 18 and an additional 10 yards for a face mask penalty.
Gill made it 2-for-2 on the ensuing kickoff, this time picking up the ball at his 25 and --ing untouched to the end zone.
After that, the Mustangs forced a Fallston punt, and Jason Tharpe made a fourth-down run for a first down at the 19.
From there, the 5-11, 185-pound junior charged into the end zone after breaking away from defenders who appeared to have him stopped three or four times.
Street's third extra point made it 21-6 with eight seconds left in the first quarter.