Joppatowne could have crumbled under the weight of the problems it faced heading into last night's game with unbeaten North Harford. Instead, the Mariners used them for inspiration to pull out a tough victory.
Starting quarterback C.J. Townes had to sit out, and Ben Tucker was forced to start his first varsity game. Tucker played well and received help from Tavon Henley and Marquis Horsey, as each ran for a touchdown. Kelvin Harris had two interceptions to help the Joppatowne defense control visiting North Harford and hold on for a 14-11 victory.
Townes was ejected in the third quarter of last week's win at North East-Cecil, and Harford County rules state that an ejected player must miss the next game. Joppatowne coach Bill Waibel turned to Tucker and hoped the offense and defense could do the job.
"We played with a lot of character and with a lot of heart," Waibel said. "We built on the adversity. We had a good week of preparation."
Tucker initially struggled with timing and getting into a rhythm but settled down when Waibel moved Joppatowne (3-1) into a different offensive set late in the first quarter.
Waibel began using a formation that put a back or receiver right next to the tight end or tackle on each side. That gave Joppatowne an extra blocker and quickly opened up several good runs. Horsey capped it with a 5-yard touchdown run on the third play of the second quarter for a 6-3 lead.
Harris stopped North Harford (3-1) by picking off Dan Griffin's pass in the end zone on the Hawks' ensuing drive. The Mariners then drove 80 yards in 10 plays, with Henley scoring on an 8-yard run.
He then ran for the two-point conversion and a 14-3 lead with 2:56 left in the half. North Harford came right back, and Zachary Davis ran for a 6-yard touchdown with three seconds left. His two-point conversion cut the lead to 14-11.
But the Hawks could do no more. North Harford had some good scoring chances in the second half but either hurt itself or saw Joppatowne make a key defensive play. Griffin (6-for-17, 72 yards) overthrew a wide open receiver on one drive in the fourth quarter, while others dropped some key passes.
North Harford tried to drive late in the fourth quarter, but Harris sealed the victory by picking off a deflected pass. The Hawks also were hurt with the loss of top lineman Corey Jubb, who came out in the second quarter after suffering a possible concussion.
"If you lose a guy, somebody will step up, and that's what they did," North Harford coach Ken Brinkman said. "We had opportunities, and we've got to take care of them."
North County 18, No. 7 Broadneck 16 -- Travis Delizio passed for 182 yards and three touchdowns as the Knights (3-1) upset the host Bruins (2-2). The go-ahead pass was completed to Alex Wright in the fourth quarter.
No. 3 River Hill 57, Hammond 0 -- Michael Campanaro scored five touchdowns - three rushing, one receiving and a punt return - as the Hawks (4-0) routed the visiting Bears (1-3). Campanaro rushed for 205 yards on 15 carries. Zach Martin had three touchdowns.
St. Paul's 28, Pallotti 0 -- Brian Taaffe passed for two touchdowns and rushed for one to lead the Crusaders (2-3) over the Panthers (0-3). Colby Roane had three catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
Sun reporters contributed to this article.