Eighth-ranked Aberdeen almost proved too hospitable in its homecoming game last night, but survived giving away a late touchdown to beat Bel Air, 20-14, in a key Harford County game.
It was the fifth straight victory overall and third straight in the county for the Eagles, who played without one of their top runners, Dondre Gilliam (sprained ankle).
Aberdeen (5-1) cemented this win with a quick-strike touchdown just before the half and a third scoring drive with the second-half kickoff.
That put the Bobcats behind 20-6 before the defenses took center stage, forcing five consecutive turnovers from their opponents.
The final possession change in that sequence came after Bel Air (3-3) had botched a golden opportunity with a lost fumble at the Aberdeen 2.
But two plays later, the Eagles botched an exchange on a handoff and fumbled into the end zone, where Joe Keleman recovered for Bel Air. Mike Wood's conversion run shaved the lead to six points.
The Eagles then recovered the ensuing Bel Air onside kick, ran off most of the clock and then pinned the Bobcats deep in their territory for the game's final two plays.
Bel Air scored by driving the opening kickoff 61 yards in 10 plays -- all on the ground. Wood bucked over from the 2 for a 6-0 lead.
Good field position on a punt exchange enabled Aberdeen to tie on a 28-yard march capped by Andy Gasdia's plunge and a kick by Gasdia put the Bobcats behind for good, 7-6.
Then, Aberdeen did an excellent job of executing its two-minute offense before the half, marching 62 yards to score on an 18-yard pass from Gasdia to Tommy Mims.
The big play was a 31-yard connection between Gasdia and Mark Stevens that put the ball on the Bobcats' 24.
"That was a big play," said Bel Air coach Bruce Riley. "The receiver adjusted well to the ball and they executed that whole drive."
Aberdeen then marched the second-half kickoff 74 yards to the end zone in eight plays.
"To me, that was the biggest touchdown," said Eagles coach Kevin Reilly. "Our kids kept their poise and were smart with the football."