Milford Mill coach Reggie Brooks knew his team would have a difficult time defending the Baltimore County 3A-4A title without two-time All-Metro Richard Johnson, who is now at Virginia Tech.
But as he said at the season's outset: "Teams still have to beat us."
Unranked Dundalk (3-1, 2-1) succeeded in doing just that yesterday, 29-26, at Milford Mill yesterday, but found out just how tough the previously unbeaten, 12th-ranked Millers (3-1, 2-1) can be at home.
Keith Barnes rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown and had an interception, and Jared Rose had 62 yards and another score as the visiting Owls built a 29-8 lead - then survived a Millers second-half comeback.
The Owls, coming off last week's 40-13 blowout loss to No. 13 Eastern Tech, also got a touchdown from Nick Hollis and Steve Tomlinson's 15-yard scoring pass to 6-foot-3, 230-pound tight end Kirk Crowe.
"We're disappointed with how we played last week, and we're happy to get out of here with a win," said defensive end Tony Bailey, who made one of his two sacks on a Milford Mill conversion pass attempt.
"This was a big win for us," said Barnes, who missed injured running mate Jose Rose (hyper-extended knee). "Jose should be back next week against Dulaney. And when we get him, it's going to be all over."
The Owls thought it was over when they had a 21-8 halftime lead over the Millers, whose only first- half score came on a 1-yard run by Jason Price (89 yards, 21 carries) and his conversion run.
Down 29-8 with 4:46 left in the third period after Rose went over from 19 yards and Lanard Estep ran for the two-point conversion, the Millers' comeback began.
They recovered a Dundalk fumble at the Milford Mill 27, and eight plays later, Price scored his second touchdown from a yard to make it 29-14 with 6:55 to play in the game.
The Millers thwarted a subsequent drive by Dundalk, later setting up a 2-yard run by Andre Brown to make it 29-20 with 2:55 left.
The Millers got the ball back again after Lamarr Jones recovered an onside kick at Dundalk's 34. Brown then connected on passes of 23 and 11 yards, both to 6-3, 175-pound Dayron Arnold. The latter completion came on a fourth-and-goal at Dundalk's 11-yard line with two minutes left.
Dundalk's Chris Butler recovered yet another onside attempt by Milford Mill. Then the Owls forced the Millers to use each of their last two timeouts, the last with 1:03 to play, before getting an offside call against the Millers set up a fourth-and-one.
The Owls retained possession with a 3-yard run by Nick Hollis and ran out the remaining time.