Perry Hall's secondary and its Mike Lang-to-Dave Stinebaugh connection stepped up in the fourth quarter to lift the No. 11 Gators to a thrilling 28-21 victory over visiting North Carroll in yesterday's Class 4A North regional semifinal.
The Gators (10-1) will host Thomas Johnson (9-2) of Frederick, a 21-19 winner over Linganore (9-2), in next weekend's 4A North final.
Yesterday, the Gators drove 77 yards in 10 plays for the winning score after the Panthers (8-3), who were making their first playoff appearance in 29 years, had tied the game at 21 on the third touchdown of the game by Eric Kunz (21 carries, 108 yards).
Lang found Ryan Pittillo on a 30-yard pass to the Panthers' 19. On the next play with 49 seconds remaining, Lang (8-for-17, 141 yards) hit Stinebaugh in the right corner for the game-winner. Brett Ullman made his fourth straight extra point to make it 28-21.
Stinebaugh, a junior, came into the game with 49 receptions for 929 yards and 12 touchdowns, but had caught only one pass for 14 yards before grabbing two for 29 yards on the winning drive.
"They played pretty good defense and our main objective was to run the ball, " Stinebaugh said.
"When we needed it, we came out throwing the ball and made big plays. We knew they were a tough team and would come out swinging."
Defensive back David King made another big play by returning an interception 62 yards for a touchdown to give the Gators a 21-14 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
Perry Hall's secondary had three interceptions, with the others by Devon Rainey and Nelson Knight. Knight's interception of Panthers quarterback Stefan Mitchell came at the goal line on the final play of the game.
Mitchell came into the game with 1,749 passing yards and 19 touchdowns passes. The Gators held him to just 46 yards and 4-for-17 passing.
On their final drive after the Stinebaugh touchdown, the Panthers ran six plays in the final 49 seconds. Mitchell hit Phillip Sheppard with a 22-yard pass to the Gators' 28 with 15 seconds left, but his next passes were knocked down by Rainey and Justin Brisuano.
Brisuano's breakup came with one second left and Knight sealed the game with his interception on the last play.
"As the game unfolded, I could see clearly that it was going to be a dramatic finish," Panthers coach Jeff Oeming said. "It was going to be a very exciting win or a very difficult loss."
No. 2 Dunbar 66, Forestville 29 -- Tavon Austin rushed for 249 yards and four touchdowns as the Poets (11-0) routed the Knights (6-4) of Prince George's County in a Class 1A South semifinal at Poly. Austin, a junior running back, has 86 career touchdowns, one short of the state record.
No. 14 Edmondson 20, No. 12 City 14 -- Quarterback Carroll Washington scored his second touchdown of the game from 13 yards in the second overtime to give the Red Storm (9-2) a victory over the Knights in a Class 2A North semifinal at Poly. Quarterback Ellis Foster of City (8-3) scored two touchdowns on runs of 1 and 2 yards.
No. 15 Wilde Lake 17, Howard 0 -- Vaughn Stamper carried 14 times for 90 yards and a touchdown to lead the host Wildecats (9-2) past the Lions (7-4) in a Class 3A East semifinal. Wilde Lake had 347 yards of offense and held the Lions just 137. The Wildecats will play at North Harford in next weekend's regional final.
Surrattsville 44, Digital Harbor 0 -- Andre Johnson accounted for four touchdowns as Surrattsville shut out visiting Digital Harbor to advance to the Class 1A final. The quarterback threw two touchdown passes and rushed for two to lead the Hornets (10-1) past the Rams (8-3). Johnson finished with 158 rushing yards and 174 passing pass to lead his team in both categories. "We had our hands full today," Rams coach Skip Hartley email@example.com
Sun reporters contributed to this article.