HUNTINGTOWN - - After 40 straight victories, River Hill's football team ran up against a Hurricane season it just couldn't stop.
The No. 1 Hawks, who had not lost a game since the 2006 state final, waged a stellar defensive battle with the host Huntingtown Hurricanes but fell short on several offensive opportunities in a 10-7 loss Friday night in a state Class 3A semifinal - the only semifinal to feature two undefeated teams.
On a windy night in Calvert County, the Hawks (12-1) turned the ball over three times and failed to convert twice from inside Huntingtown's 5-yard line, including on the final drive of the game. After Nick Bonhag caught a 22-yard pass from Harry McLaughlin to put the Hawks on the Hurricanes' 5-yard line with 18 seconds to go, the Hawks apparently fumbled the snap and the clock ran out.
Hawks coach Brian van Deusen said he thought McLaughlin had spiked the ball and that there should have been time left on the clock.
"There's got to be time on the clock no matter what you call," van Deusen said. "The quarterback's downing the ball, so I guess they say he fumbled it and not threw it. ... I'm looking for the ball going down ... the ball lands in front of him it's a pass."
Instead of the Hawks going on to the state final for the fourth straight year, the Hurricanes (13-0) are headed to the title game for the first time in school history. They will play Linganore for the 3A crown at 7 p.m. next Saturday at M&T; Bank Stadium.
The game-winner turned out to be Mark Smith's 35-yard field goal, kicked with 1:04 left and the wind to his back.
The Hawks, who won the past two state Class 2A crowns, struggled with their emotions after the game, but Brent Kluge, a transfer from Hereford, put it in perspective.
"To win 40 straight games is something incredible," said the junior, "and to have a fight like we did tonight, that's what the game's all about. The way it ended didn't seem right, but I'm not going to put my head down."
The game lived up to its billing for two defenses that had allowed less than eight points per game. The Hawks' defense, led by lineman Thomas Erdman, did not disappoint, but the Hurricanes' defense was up to the challenge, stopping River Hill on two excellent opportunities late in the third quarter. One drive stalled at the 2-yard line as Huntingtown's line stopped Kluge short on fourth down. On their next possession, the Hawks fumbled what looked like a sure touchdown in the end zone and the Hurricanes recovered.
In the second quarter, McLaughlin capped a two-minute, five-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge, set up by Kluge's 13-yard run and Kevin Johnson's 11-yard run. Amir Shahegh's extra point tied the score at 7 with 30.8 seconds left in the half.
RH 0 7 0 0 - 7 H 0 7 0 3 - 10
H-Stanley 15 pass from Bittner (M.Smith kick)
RH-McLaughlin 1 run (Shahegh kick)
H-M.Smith 35 FG