Southern capitalized on a late first-half interception by Darian Maples and knocked out visiting Glen Burnie with two final-period touchdowns on the way to a 35-12 victory in Harwood of Anne Arundel County last night.
Despite the margin of victory, the much-improved Gophers, who had won only one game over the past two seasons, made the host Bulldogs earn it. The two teams won openers on the road last week, Glen Burnie by 12-9 at North County and Southern by 21-6 at Poly.
"They're improved a lot," said Southern linebacker-fullback Eric Foote, who recovered a fumble on the Gophers' 9 with just over nine minutes remaining. Three plays later, Foote scored a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 28-12 lead with 6:48 left.
"They're more disciplined than they were last year."
That new Glen Burnie discipline kept the Gophers in the game until the final period, but a play in the final seconds of the first half, one that first-year head coach Len Thomas would love to have back, turned momentum in Southern's favor.
Brian Miller intercepted a Zack Hiller pass to stop the Bulldogs at the Gophers' 1 with 22 seconds left and Southern leading 15-12. But on first down, Glen Burnie quarterback Marcel Thomas put the ball up and Southern's Maples intercepted it at the Gophers' 30.
Two plays later, Hiller hit Chris Vanwie with a 15-yard touchdown pass at the buzzer and the latter kicked the extra point to give the hosts a 21-15 lead at the break.
"You always second-guess yourself, and if we go in down 15-12, it's a little different story," Thomas said.
"But you also can't play scared. Those are the breaks and they're well-coached by Russ [Meyers] ."
Hiller also ran for one score and Justin Chura, who anchored the Bulldogs' defense with Foote at linebacker, ran for the final touchdown on an 18-yard burst.
Also, Southern's Mike Douglas returned a kickoff for six points after the Gophers' Justin Murdock raced 71 yards for a touchdown on the game's first play from scrimmage.
Centennial 25, No. 4 Long Reach 18 -- Senior captain Justin Harris scored on a 90-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to propel the host Eagles (1-1) past the Lightning (1-1). Harris also returned a fumble for a touchdown after Lightning quarterback Keith Richardson lost the ball on the 5-yard line as Centennial rallied for the upset win.
No. 7 Broadneck 36, Meade 0 -- Anthony Baker scored two touchdowns and Chris McDermott made two field goals to lead the Bruins (2-0) past the host Mustangs (1-1). Broadneck's defense held Meade to 37 total yards.
No. 9 Dunbar 46, Carver 0 -- Sophomore running back Tavon Austin ran for 219 of the Poets' 323 rushing yards as Dunbar (1-1) shut out the visiting Bears. Austin ran for two touchdowns and caught one in the rout.
No. 15 Edmondson 28, Douglass 0 -- Senior running back Tariq Jones carried 17 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns and had a two-point conversion for the Redskins (2-0).
No. 8 Arundel 41, Chesapeake-AA 6 -- Nick Elko had four touchdowns to power the Wildcats (2-0) past the visiting Cougars (0-2). Elko had two rushing touchdowns and threw two. He finished 14 of 28 for 121 yards.