Hereford's mix of a power-running game and swarming defense has carried it to nine Baltimore County championships and three state titles in the past 12 years, and in last night's opener against visiting Frederick Douglass of Prince George's County, the No. 4 Bulls ran into a team that knew how to counter that formula.
Douglass opened an early two-touchdown lead and rushed for 190 yards en route to a 20-17 victory. Eagles quarterback Richard Barber threw two touchdown passes, and the defense locked down Hereford's modified Wing-T offense for most of the game.
"We did not execute. We made too many mental mistakes," Hereford coach Steve Turnbaugh said. "We had plays that we are very capable of making, and we didn't make them. We made too many inexcusable mental errors where we had the wrong personnel and the wrong formation in there."
Trey Massey led Douglas with 75 yards on 15 carries. Devon Bridges had 13 tackles, two forced fumbles and a sack for Douglass. Bridges also caught a touchdown pass.
Hereford running backs Neil Deluca and Nick DePaola were effective, and the Bulls rushed for 178 yards as a team. But Hereford's inability to come up with a big play to extend the defense hurt it in the end.
Douglass, ranked ninth in the latest Washington Post poll, opened the scoring on its second possession with a 57-yard touchdown run by Emmanuel Paul. The Bulls then fumbled a punt, and Douglas recovered on Hereford's 5-yard line. Douglass was backed up to the 19 because of three false-start penalties, but Barber found William McKenzie in the middle of the end zone for a 12-0 lead with 1:02 left in the first quarter.
"It was a real big win on the road," Douglass coach J.C. Pinkney said. "We've had some problems with out-of-county teams. It was good to come up here and get a win against a really good squad."
A 34-yard run by the Bulls' Harold Williams set up a 1-yard touchdown by Hasani Cromwell to cut the lead to 12-7 with 10 minutes left in the half.
The Bulls shut down the Eagles' offense after giving up the early scores, but they could not generate enough offense of their own to take the lead. Douglass eventually made Hereford pay when Barber threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Bridges with 28 seconds left in the third quarter that put the game out of reach.
A 2-yard touchdown run by DePaola with 1:48 left in the game rounded out the scoring as a hard rain began to fall.
No. 8 Perry Hall 9, St. Paul's 3:: Running back Brandon Sofia covered 72 yards on a screen pass from quarterback Davonta Farrell for the game's only touchdown in the first half, and then David Stinbaugh recovered a fumble with 48 seconds left in regulation after St. Paul's drove to the Gators' 5.
No. 13 Wilde Lake 12, Long Reach 9:: Sophomore running back E.J. Gilman scored the game-winning touchdown when he went 35 yards to bring the Wildecats back from a 7-6 halftime deficit.
No. 14 Poly 40, Walbrook 8:: Junior quarterback Antoine Goodson accounted for 150 total yards, including 97 yards on the ground with four scores to lead the host Engineers to the comfortable win. Defensively for the winners, Michael Wadsworth finished with 10 tackles with five going for losses.
No. 15 Joppatowne 26, North Carroll 7:: The host Mariners piled up 345 yards on the ground with Tavon Henley (148 yards, three touchdowns) and Epe Henriques (131 yards) sharing the load.
Annapolis 20, North Harford 0:: Running back Demond Brown rushed for 171 yards on 12 carries - including a 77-yard touchdown run in the first quarter - to lead the Panthers to the shutout win.
Douglass 14, Carver 8, OT:: After Douglass tied the game with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, quarterback Carlos Crossland threw his second touchdown pass in overtime, finding Roland Brandon for an 8-yard score to lift the Ducks past Carver. Douglass, under first-year coach Steve Simmons, already matched all of last season's win total when it went 1-9 via a forfeit victory against Crossland.
WESTERN TECH:: Senior linebacker Chris Mason-Hale remains at Maryland Shock Trauma with a severe neck injury suffered during last Friday's scrimmage at Northeast. Western Tech athletic director Mike McEwan said Mason-Hale, 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, was injured on an awkward tackle in which he and the Northeast player made contact helmet-to-helmet. McEwan did not elaborate on Mason-Hale's injury but said he could be released from Shock Trauma within a week and that he would "need extensive physical therapy."
Baltimore Sun reporters Glenn Graham and Katherine Dunn contributed to this article.