An injury to Hammond coach Joe Russo on the last play of the game cast a pall over Oakland Mills's 7-6 county-title-clinching victory yesterday at Oakland Mills.
Russo was injured when Oakland Mills quarterback Irving Conwell was tackled along the Hammond sidelines with 1:10 left to play.
The referees terminated the game at that point, and an ambulance was requested for Russo.
Howard County supervisor of athletics Don Disney said Russo suffered torn ligaments in his knee. It was the same leg that Russo broke in several places last winter when he fell off a ladder while hanging a banner in the gymnasium.
"I feel really bad for Joe," Oakland Mills coach Ken Hovet said.
The game itself was an unexpected defensive struggle. Hammond was held to 22 yards passing and 87 yards rushing. Oakland Mills was held to 43 yards passing and 112 yards rushing.
By winning, fifth-ranked Oakland Mills (7-2 overall, 6-0 league) ended Hammond's hopes for its first county title and knocked the Bears out of the playoffs.
The Scorpions scored in the second quarter on a 39-yard hitch pass from Conwell to Antiwan Jones, who faked out Spruill at the 30-yard line and ran the rest of the way untouched. Tajiri Smith kicked the extra point.
"Most of the game they were in his [Jones] face, but toward the end of the half they starting giving him some cushion," Hovet said. "They blitzed on the play, so Jones had only one man to beat. I thought that one touchdown would hold up until the fumble."
Hammond's William Oliver recovered Fardan Carter's fumble and ran 37 yards for a touchdown with 3:50 left to play.
Josh Zillmer missed the extra-point kick wide right, however.
Despite a 37-yard run by Conwell, Hammond regained possession at its own 48-yard line with 1:23 to play, but Spruill's deep pass on first down was intercepted by Conwell.
Most of the first half was played on Oakland Mills' side of the field. No. 14 Hammond (7-2, 4-2) lost two fumbles and ran out of downs once at the 18-yard line.
Two fumbles stymied an Oakland Mills' running game that produced 94 yards in the second half.
"They surprised us defensively," Hovet said. "I thought we'd be able to run straight at them."
* Atholton 38, Mount Hebron 0: Ricky Trott ran for 79 yards and two touchdowns to help Atholton (7-2) past Mount Hebron. Jon Sandner had 57 yards rushing and one touchdown.
* Centennial 38, Glenelg 12: Seung Hak Lee scored two touchdowns and George Mitroka had five receptions for 113 yards, leading Centennial (5-4) past host Glenelg (2-7). Chip Harrison, Scott Bross and Marwan Oweis each had a rushing touchdown for Centennial, which rushed for 211 yards.
* Wilde Lake 35, Howard 0: Dain Lewis had 13 carries for 59 yards, including four touchdowns, as host Wilde Lake (6-3) shut out Howard (5-4).
Wildecats quarterback Jeff Johnson went 5-for-7 for 75 yards, including a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
The Wilde Lake defense held Howard to 80 total offensive yards.