When North County pulled within a point against No. 4 Old Mill midway through the fourth quarter last night, coach Gary Liddick decided to gamble.
Instead of trying for an extra point, Liddick put the ball in the hands of Anne Arundel County's top running back, Dino Stevens, who barreled through the host Patriots' line for the two-point conversion and the lead. The No. 13 Knights then were able to contain Old Mill the rest of the way and held on for a 22-21 victory.
"I asked the kids, 'Can we do this?' And they said, 'We got it,' " Liddick said. "This [victory] will give us more enthusiasm and belief in what we are doing here and how we are going about it. ... I can't express how I feel."
With the victory, the Knights are tied with Old Mill and Arundel atop the league standings at 6-1. It was North County's first win over Old Mill this decade.
The Knights' attack revolves around Stevens, who entered the game as the county's leading rusher with 910 yards and 15 touchdowns, and he finished with 92 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown. Old Mill had not allowed an opponent to score more than 19 points in a game this season, but it gave up 14 in the first half last night.
Stevens set up the game's first touchdown when he took the opening kickoff 85 yards to the 3-yard line. Quarterback Travis Delizio, who completed 13 of 20 passes for 145 yards, then scored on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Patriots tied the score with 4:07 left in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Josh Furman, his ninth of the season.
Old Mill's offense is led by Grant Enders, who has thrown for 15 touchdowns with no interceptions, and he gave Old Mill the lead with a 70-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gross with less than a minute left in the first quarter. North County tied it on a hook-and-ladder play when Delizio found Stevens on a 7-yard pass and Stevens flipped the ball to Mike Davis, who ran 27 yards for a touchdown.
"Our defense was playing good, and we knew our offense was going to come through eventually," Stevens said. "Our defense stepped up big and didn't allow them hardly any yards in the first half. We knew we could get it done."
After a scoreless third quarter, Enders delivered again with a 73-yard pass to Gross on Old Mill's first possession. North County answered with a 13-play, 70-yard drive capped by a 1-yard run by Stevens, who then gave the Knights the lead by running in the two-point conversion,
"Our special teams killed us today," Old Mill coach Damian Ferragamo said. "When you look at the first half, they basically scored with that kickoff return down to the [3-yard line] and a trick play. We were doing fine stopping them."