Urbana advances to final with 45-6 rout of Hereford; Hawks score all points in first seven possessions; Class 2A football; HIGH SCHOOLS


IJAMSVILLE -- Hereford trailed Urbana by 39 points and was having trouble moving the ball on offense against the Hawks' reserves.

"With their speed to the ball, their defense is incredible," said Hereford assistant coach Mike Blizzard.

Urbana's superior athleticism, execution and sheer desire to repeat as 2A state champions were overwhelming in a 45-6 semifinal rout of No. 4 Hereford (11-1). The Hawks (11-0) won their 24th straight game and earned a berth in Saturday's title game against No. 5 Edmondson at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium.

The loss, meanwhile, ended a 27-game road winning streak for Hereford, which is 45-4 over the past four seasons. State champions in 1997, the Bulls had never had a season above .500 before Steve Turnbaugh took over in 1995.

"We knew what they were going to do," said Turnbaugh. "But they have no weaknesses anywhere. We looked at some things that we thought would work. Their offense is incredible on its own, but their defense is what stood out."

Urbana's starters took 23 plays in their first seven possessions to rack up 321 yards and score the 45 points needed for the victory.

Penn State-bound quarterback Zack Mills was 8-for-14 for 236 yards and five touchdowns. Two of his scores went to Mills' favorite target, Billy Gaines (three receptions, 39 yards) from 1 and 4 yards -- Gaines' 13th and 14th scoring receptions.

Junior Josh Brown booted six extra points. His 53-yard field goal, to put Urbana ahead 10-0, was 4 yards off the state record (57) held by Perry Hall's Jason Bloom.

Kicking with the wind at his back in the first half, Brown's field goal carried so well it might have gone in from 60 yards. He also continually pinned the Bulls on offense, booting four of his seven kickoffs for touchbacks.

"We wanted to start them at the 20-yard line every possession, let the defense do the rest," Brown said.

The scrimmage line was controlled by Urbana linemen Stew Alcorn (6 feet 2, 290), Kevin Mager (6-3, 325) and Ben Thompson (6-3, 220), the latter of whom recovered a fumble and registered his team-high 16th sack. They helped limit a Hereford Wing-T offense, which had averaged 400 yards, to 146.

Hereford's Sean Wdowiak, sacked seven times, went 12-for-17 for 116 yards, mostly to Rob Bateman (six receptions, 79 yards), and found Ryan Vogel on the end of a 12-yard scoring pass with 5: 29 left to play.

Down 31-0, the Bulls covered 52 yards in 12 plays and reached the Urbana 10 before their fumble was recovered by Thompson.

Five plays after the fumble, Alex Herbert turned a screen pass from Mills into a 76-yard touchdown for a 38-0 lead with 1: 33 left in the first half. Chris O'Connor (47 yards) and Luke Pearson (31) caught the other touchdown passes from Mills.

Turnbaugh earned his fourth straight semifinal berth with last week's 33-14 win at Queen Anne's, a victory that boosted his career record to 50-9 and made him the second Maryland coach since Dunbar's Stanley Mitchell (50-12) to win 50 games in his first five seasons at the helm.

But as far as the Bulls' program has come under Turnbaugh, Urbana's, in its third full varsity season in the school's fifth-year existence, has come much further under former Seneca Valley assistant Dave Carruthers.

"It was a technical battle, and they are as good as we've seen," Alcorn said. "I take my hat off to them. They've come a long way, but we wanted it more in the end."

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