As they quietly filed out of the Harford Tech gymnasium, many Eastern Tech fans shook their heads in disbelief. For their Mavericks, the loss nearly defied description.
But the scoreboard told the story: No. 4 Harford Tech 54, No. 10 Eastern Tech 9.
"It was a really bad night," said a nearly speechless Chris Clark, a former state runner-up who was taken down with 26 seconds left in his 5-3 loss to unbeaten Josh Taylor.
"They came with a lot of intensity," said Clark, ranked sixth at 152 pounds. "But it was like our team just fell apart."
The Cobras (4-0) had plenty to do with that. Their pins - seven in all - came from Mike Long (112), Mark Owens (125), Mike Taylor (130), Brad Dreyer (140), Jeff Gardner (171), Tony Gibson (189) and Scott Tipton (215).
With his upset, Josh Taylor moved to 8-0 while Clark fell to 9-2. Their match was highly anticipated when the night started, with each wrestler having defeated Boys' Latin state runner-up Brian Saval. But by the time the two reached the mat, the Cobras already had firmly established momentum with a 51-6 lead.
"We were definitely motivated for this match as a team," said Taylor, a junior. "[Clark] was really tough down on the mat, but once I got the first double-leg takedown on him, I knew I could do it again."
Taylor's was one of two upsets. The other, by sophomore Patrick Conlon (135), came against fourth-ranked and previously unbeaten John Mullinix (10-1) of Eastern Tech.
"I knew he was ranked, but Josh told me I could beat him," said Conlon, whose 4-3 victory raised his record to 7-2. "I was pretty nervous going into it, but I figured we were pretty even. I just worked a little harder."
Only Ryan Morningstar (119), Tom Butcher (145) and second-ranked Justin Shaffer (160, 11-0) earned decisions for the Mavericks (3-1), who trailed 30-0 after six bouts and 51-3 with three bouts left.
Tipton (7-1) built a 9-0 lead before pinning Eric Hartman in 3:23, but Gardner, a sophomore, and Gibson, a senior, each had to come from behind to remain unbeaten at 8-0.
Gardner trailed 1-0 in the second period when his takedown and an arm-bar pinning combination finished off Shane Peddicord in 3:36. Gibson, down 3-1 in the second period, broke a 3-3 tie with 1:25 to go on a takedown, then pinned Austin Hale with 32 seconds left.
Owens and state runners-up Mike Taylor (7-1) and Dreyer (8-0), ranked third and fourth, respectively, kept things going by decking their rivals in dominant fashion.
"To beat them by three points last year and then to annihilate them feels awesome," said Long (8-1), who capped the match-opening six-bout sweep with his 44-second pin - one of four falls during that stretch. "We went that extra mile with offseason wrestling, and I don't think a lot of teams had that."
Other mild surprises were second-year heavyweight Chris Moxey and freshman Matt Oates (3-1). Moxey's overtime takedown earned him an 8-6 victory over Justin Myers, and Oates, in his fourth varsity bout, scored a 10-6 decision against Tavon Mullaney, one of Baltimore County's top performers at 103 pounds.
"We have like this tunnel vision," said Owens, a sophomore. "We're going for the state title, and we'll do whatever we have to to get there."