The importance of last night's game against host Archbishop Spalding was not lost on St. Mary's running back Neill Lewnes.
He knew the game was vital to the standings and the winner would be in control while trying to reach next month's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship game. Lewnes led the Saints with 131 yards on 23 carries and scored the game-winning touchdown in a 14-7 victory.
"We started off a little rough, but coach [Brad Best] kept telling us we are going to make the championship," Lewnes said. "He kept putting that in our minds. He said we control our own destiny, and obviously it has paid off."
St. Mary's (5-4 overall, 5-1 league) would advance to the championship game with wins over St. Paul's, which is tied for first, and Severn. Spalding is still in the race if it can win out and St. Mary's or St. Paul's loses two more games.
The teams played conservatively in the first half and stuck mostly to running the ball. St. Mary's came up with several big stops, including a fourth-and-one with Spalding on the Saints' 16-yard line.
That stop was vital because St. Mary's scored on its final possession of the first half when quarterback Trey Quinn faked a handoff to Lewnes and gave the ball to Mark McNeill, who cut in the opposite direction. McNeill found some space on the left side of the line and ran 36 yards for the touchdown.
St. Mary's increased its lead to 14-0 with an 80-yard drive that ate up 9:27 in the third. Lewnes finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
"After we left Georgetown Prep and got beat [Oct.3], we were 2-4. The kids were down," Best said. "I told them we're 0-3 in the A Conference, but we don't play in the A Conference. We play in the B Conference, and if we win outright, we'll go to the championship game."
Spalding (4-4, 4-2) scored after getting the ball on St. Mary's 15-yard line after a botched punt early in the fourth quarter. On the third play of the drive, Jordan Cohill ran 12 yards for the touchdown.
"It was just a great high school football game," Spalding coach Mike Whittles said. "We had opportunities and did not get it in."
No. 3 DUNBAR 50, DOUGLASS 0:: Tavon Austin ran for 245 yards on 11 carries and scored four times as the visiting Poets (7-1, 7-0 city Division I) extended their winning streak against Baltimore City opponents to 20. Austin scored the first three touchdowns on runs of 59 and 16 yards and a 55-yard punt return. Davon Muse scored two touchdowns and ran for 110 yards. The Poets' Horace Miller had four sacks against the Ducks (2-6, 1-6).
NO. 10 HEREFORD 36, WOODLAWN 12: : Hasani Cromwell caught one touchdown pass and ran for a touchdown as the Bulls (6-2) beat the visiting Warriors (5-3). Hereford's David Wood ran for two touchdowns, and Nick DePaola had 25 carries for 207 yards and a touchdown.
NORTHWESTERN 36, LEWIS 0:: Terrance West rushed for 209 yards and four touchdowns as the Wildcats (7-1, 6-0) defeated the host Falcons (6-2, 6-1) for sole possession of first place in Baltimore City's Division II.
CITY 28, MERVO 3:: Quarterback Ellis Foster had a big afternoon with 301 total yards and two touchdowns as the visiting Knights (5-4, 4-2 Division I) defeated Mervo (4-4, 3-4).
MCDONOGH 41, ST. PAUL'S 7: : Junior quarterback Rudy Johnson had a hand in four touchdowns as the host Eagles defeated the Gators (5-3). Curtis Holmes scored two touchdowns for the Eagles (3-5).
PATTERSON 42, CARVER 0: : Tyrell Addison and Jeryl Cole scored two touchdowns each as the Clippers (4-4, 3-4) beat the Bears (0-8, 0-6) in a city Division I game. Cole rushed for 172 yards.
PERRY HALL 38, PARKVILLE 16:: Davonta Farrell threw for three touchdowns and ran for one as the Gators (6-2) defeated the visiting Knights (1-7).
CENTENNIAL 48, HAMMOND 12: : Kyle Young had 19 carries for 144 yards and three touchdowns to power the visiting Eagles (4-4) past the Golden Bears (0-8).
LUTHERAN 25, AACS 13:: Billy Seymour threw for one touchdown and rushed for another to power the host Saints (3-5) past the Eagles (1-6).
ELKTON 33, EDGEWOOD 6:: Kenyatta Carter caught a touchdown pass and ran for a touchdown as the Elks (5-3) defeated the host Rams (2-6).
ST. JOHN'S CATHOLIC PREP 35, FRIENDS 0: : Lamont Wims scored every point for the visiting Vikings (7-2). Wims finished with 10 carries for 226 yards and five touchdowns. He went 5-for-5 on extra points against the Quakers (2-4).
PATAPSCO 27, OVERLEA 20:: Deonte Murray scored the winning touchdown with 23 seconds left to lead the Patriots over the host Falcons. He finished with 147 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Baltimore Sun reporters contributed to this article.