NEW MARKET - -Hereford did a good job of staying close to host Linganore in the first half of Friday's Class 3A state semifinal. Then came "the gust."
The divine wind helped the Lancers (13-0) build an insurmountable lead en route to a 41-9 victory over the visiting, seventh-ranked Bulls (10-2). The victory earns the Lancers a date with Huntingtown, which beat River Hill, 10-7, in the other semifinal, in the 3A state championship at M&T; Bank Stadium at 7 p.m. next Saturday.
Zack Zwinak rushed for 154 yards on 13 carries to pace the Lancers. Harold Williams led Hereford, with 98 yards on 19 carries.
The Lancers led 13-3 at the half, and Linganore kicked off to begin the second half. Instead of kicking deep, however, Lancers kicker Alex Eckard popped the ball up. It traveled about 15 yards before being caught by the wind and dying, then falling between a group of Bulls. The Lancers recovered the loose ball and scored on a 44-yard touchdown run by Zwinak on the next play to put the game out of reach with 11:47 remaining in the third quarter.
"That was a huge momentum-changer for us," said Zwinak, who is rated by several publications as the No. 1 fullback prospect in the nation and will attend Penn State next fall. "We took advantage of our opportunities, and that was one of them."
The Lancers had used a touchdown (of 6 yards) by Zwinak and two field goals (of 36 and 24 yards) by Eckard to build the lead in the first half. The Bulls mounted several long drives in the first half but came away with only a 27-yard field goal by Andrew Johns with 5:52 in the half.
"We just muffed the kickoff," Hereford coach Steve Turnbaugh said. "It just got caught up in the wind. They know how we play, and we know how they play. We moved the ball on them for most of the night. I'm proud of our kids and their effort."
Said Williams: "We made too many mistakes, and they capitalized on them. We gave them too many chances, and every time we did, they cashed in on them."
For Zwinak, the state championship is a chance for redemption after dropping the 4A title game to Sherwood last season.
"It feels great to be going back," Zwinak said. "We know Huntingtown has a great team, so it'll be a tough week of practice for us. We know what we're capable of, though, so we'll see what happens."
H 0 3 6 0 - 9
L 7 6 14 14 - 41
L- Zwinak 6 run (Eckard kick)
H- FG 27 Johns
L-FG 36 Eckard
L-FG 24 Eckard
L-Zwinak 44 run (Eckard kick)
H-Wood 11 run (kick blocked)
L-Zwinak 7 run (Eckard kick)
L-Myers 27 run (Eckard kick)
L-Thomas 73 run (Eckard kick)