In a game filled with big plays by both teams, Joppatowne (5-1, 3-1) came up with the biggest one when Matt Berger passed to Andre Turner for a 30-yard touchdown with less than two minutes to play.
The Mariners escaped with a 20-13 Harford County League victory over visiting Aberdeen last night.
The play climaxed a wild fourth quarter that saw the momentum swing from side to side before a solid Joppatowne defensive effort stopped the Eagles (2-4, 1-4) two of the last three times they had the ball.
With the home team leading 13-7, Aberdeen drove to the Mariners' 2, from where three rushes and a pass failed to put the ball in the end zone.
Joppatowne promptly gave the Eagles another chance with a fumble at its own 5, and this time Mike Cromwell was hit at the goal line, fumbled and Aberdeen's Dan Julian recovered in the end zone. A bad snap spoiled the bid for the go-ahead point.
The two sides then exchanged turnovers, as Joppatowne lost a fumble and Chris Shape snagged the second of his two interceptions to end Aberdeen's final possession with four minutes left.
The winning touchdown drive covered 87 yards in eight plays. With the ball at the Aberdeen 30, the defenders stopped two running plays, and a pass fell just out of reach.
With top defender Mike Cromwell on one side, Joppatowne went to the other side on fourth down, and Turner simply flew by the defender to grab Berger's throw in stride at the 10.
"We gave up some big-yardage plays in the first half, but we got our defense to play their positions and they stuck some people," Joppatowne coach John Kling said.
"The defense came up big -- Cable Miller, Avion Epps and Lamar Williams, in particular -- and this was easily our best all-around game."
One area of concern was his players not hanging onto the ball, as Aberdeen came up with three fumble recoveries. The Mariners' defense offset four of them with interceptions in a game that saw eight turnovers.
The offensive line drew Kling's praise for coming off the ball and wearing down the defenders. Miller anchors that unit from his center position, with Epps and Rich Tempel the guards, and Chris Shoul and Scott Plewacki the tackles, with Steve Gordon getting a start at tight end because of his blocking ability.
Of the defensive heroics, Epps said, "Aberdeen was good, but they couldn't seem to get started. They had to use some double teams and were getting pushed around.
"It was homecoming, and we had to pick it up. The way we hit their offensive line, the only play they had was a reverse, and we stopped that."