Annapolis is in and North County is probably out, the result of a July 4th-like fireworks show in Ferndale as the run beat the pass.
Rayvon Johnson ran wild, setting several school records as No. 5-ranked Annapolis (9-0) clinched a Class 3A playoff berth with a 41-24 victory at North County (6-3) last night. The Panthers are one win away from becoming Anne Arundel County's 12th unbeaten regular-season team.
Johnson, All-Metro as a junior, scored five touchdowns and ran for a career-high 330 yards, both school records, and moved into second place on the Anne Arundel career rushing list with 3,638 yards, passing Meade's Tanardo Sharps, who had 3,627 (1996-97).
Broadneck's Martel Threadgill holds the county record with 3,996 career yards over four seasons (1995-98). Johnson, who is playing just his second varsity season, started the game in fifth place.
His game total eclipsed the school record of 279 yards Turkey Brown set in 1980 before going on to play at Maryland and in the NFL.
"[Johnson is] the real deal, a racehorse," said North County coach Chuck Markiewicz, whose team held Johnson to 148 yards last season.
The five touchdowns gave Johnson 23 rushing and 25 total for the season, also school records. The Panthers needed all five last night to hold off a record-setting performance by the Knights' pair of quarterback Mike Pfisterer and receiver Nat Randall.
"North County has a great offense, a great offense, but so do we, " said Annapolis coach Roy Brown.
"Our offense kept the ball away from them just enough for us to pull it out."
Pfisterer, who moved into 10th place on the state career passing yards list with 4,376, set state records for passes attempted (58) in a game and completions (38) for 375 yards.
Randall set a state record for receptions in a game with 21 for 220 yards. Two went for touchdowns, Nos. 41 and 42 in Pfisterer's career.
The Panthers did not throw a pass in the first half. Johnson had 230 of the team's 308 yards rushing (476 for the game) in the half. He scored four of his touchdowns in the first half on runs of 56, 15, 55 and 8 yards to give Annapolis a 27-10 lead at the break.
Things slowed down in the third period, with neither team scoring, but the pace picked up in the final 12 minutes, with Johnson scoring his fifth touchdown and quarterback Mike Phaneuf getting another.
Randall grabbed a scoring pass from Pfisterer from 10 yards and Jarrod Ross added a 15-yard run for six points to close the scoring with 5: 32 left.
The loss was North County's third in a row and may have sent its Class 4A East region playoff hopes flying.
A victory in their final game against winless Glen Burnie would earn no bonus points, and the Knights' 7-3 record would likely not make the cut for the eight-team state tournament. North County started the weekend 10th overall in the state.
Annapolis is in position to finish unbeaten for the second time in three seasons, having lost its 10th game in 1997 to Severna Park, 21-14. A win at Broadneck next week will give the Panthers their perfect season and also could seed them first in the Class 3A playoffs.
"It feels great to be in again," said 11th-year coach Brown, who was an assistant to the late Al Laramore on the last unbeaten Annapolis team, in 1984.