With the recent dissolving of the Maryland Scholastic Association, several officials said that the private-school rivalries would lose some of their fire. However, no one told the football players at Severn and St. Mary's.
The Admirals and the Saints battled back and forth before St. Mary's finally took control for a 24-12 victory yesterday.
"This game will always be big for both of these schools," said Saints defensive captain Joe Keenan. "Everyone on both teams knows each other, and the game is always tough no matter what the sport is. There's still a lot of fire in this rivalry."
Junior running back Jason Lilly ran for three touchdowns and 173 yards on 19 carries to lead a powerful Saints ground attack.
St. Mary's coach Brad Best said his team could have thrown the ball more but chose not to.
"We were doing such a good job running the ball and controlling the clock that the rest of the coaching staff just wanted to keep running the ball," Best said. "We usually have a pretty balanced attack, but today it just seemed smarter keeping it on the ground."
The day started badly for the Saints when Admirals tailback John Vereen ran back the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 Severn lead.
But the quick score did not bother the Saints too much as they answered with a 13-play drive, capped by a 7-yard run from Lilly, to tie the score. Mark Keifer's extra point put the Saints ahead 7-6.
Early in the second quarter, the Admirals recovered a St. Mary's fumble on their own 44. Two plays later after a sack took the ball back to the Severn 35, Vereen struck again with a 65-yard -- around the outside to score and give Severn the lead at 12-7.
St. Mary's again followed the big play with a long scoring drive, this one taking 12 plays before Lilly found an opening and ran 35 yards for the score. Another Keifer extra point gave the Saints a 14-12 lead. Keifer finished the scoring in the first half with a 35-yard field goal with 12 seconds to go.
Most of the fans in attendance were prepared for a knock-down-drag-out second half, but Severn got its worst news of the day at halftime when it was discovered that Vereen would not be able to continue due to a sprained ankle.
Severn's offense sputtered for most of the second half, and a 65-yard touchdown run by Lilly late in the third quarter iced the game.
"We're a different team without Vereen in there," said Admirals coach Alan Pastrana. "He would have made a difference in the second half but you still have to give a lot of credit to St. Mary's. They're a very talented, and more importantly, a very experienced ballclub."