In past years, it rarely mattered where Towson and sixth-ranked Overlea stood in the Baltimore County 1A-2A standings.
When the two met on the field, it was guaranteed to be one of the most intense games on the schedule.
Last night, in Overlea's 26-6 win over Towson at Dundalk Community College, the atmosphere was no different.
At least for the first quarter.
After Towson (1-1, 0-1) opened the game impressively, driving 79 yards, mostly on the ground, for a touchdown and 6-0 lead, the Falcons (2-0, 1-0) stormed back with 26 unanswered points.
For Overlea coach Terry Ward, the early stages were too close for comfort.
"You'd better believe there were doubts in my mind," Ward said.
"Towson moved the ball right down the field on us. After last
year's game, they knew they could play with us."
Overlea won last year, 35-28.
LTC This time around, however, the Falcons dominated with their experienced offensive and defensive lines.
In two wins this season, they have outscored opponents 56-14.
"We knew we had most of our defensive positions back from last year, but I still thought it would be a close game," said Overlea quarterback Bernard Fitchette, who completed four of 13 passes on the gusty night for 90 yards and ran for 40 yards.
"The line did a great job letting me get to my receivers."
Fitchette was complemented on offense by running back Kenyon Crawford, who gained 56 yards on 11 carries and scored his fourth and fifth touchdowns of the season.
Early on, it appeared he would need more.
After Overlea failed to move the ball on its first possession, Towson ground out a 14-play, 79-yard scoring drive.
Running backs Tex DeLeon and Scott Carpenter carried 13 of the times, with DeLeon capping the drive with 3:07 left in the quarter on a 2-yard touchdown plunge.
But just three plays later, Fitchette found Francel Smith wide-open over the middle for a 54-yard completion and a touchdown, tying the score at 6-6 as the first quarter expired.
The Falcons took a 12-6 lead 2:38 before the half when Crawford finished an 11-play, 51-yard drive with a 1-yard dive over the middle.
Towson had an opportunity to cut into the lead early in the second half but Carpenter was tackled in the backfield by Jim McHugh and Mike Knoedler on a fourth-and-two at the 8.
From there, Overlea coasted, adding late scores on a 50-yard interception return by Shawnte Dukes and a 21-yard run by Crawford.
For Ward, the final score was gratifying after the shaky start.
"We've worked really hard and we're just itching to do well," he said. "People want to knock us off."