On this night, slow and steady won the race.
Facing a team with loads of big-play potential, visiting Hereford on Friday methodically ground out the biggest win on its Baltimore County 4A-3A league schedule, riding a huge night from running back Vince DePaola to a 14-6 win over previously unbeaten No. 7 Franklin.
DePaola, a deceptively quick senior, gained 229 yards on 36 carries, helping give the Bulls (7-1, 5-0) a huge advantage in time of possession and keeping the Indians' prolific offense, which had entered the night averaging 38 points, off the field.
"We knew that we had to have sustained drives," Hereford coach Steve Turnbaugh said. "We knew that probably our best chance was to keep their offense off the field. We had some missed opportunities, but the offense made the plays they had to make when they had to do it."
Hereford, which has won seven straight since opening the season with a loss to North Harford, has not lost to Franklin (7-1, 4-1) since 1994. In the process, the Bulls also put themselves in prime position for a fifth straight Baltimore County title, with games against only Dulaney and Perry Hall remaining.
If Hereford set out to make a statement, it certainly did so on the game's opening drive. The Bulls simply lined up and ran it straight down the field on seven consecutive plays -- all by DePaola -- including a 32-yard burst through the left side that gave them a 7-0 lead.
DePaola carried the ball 22 times for 143 yards in the first half.
"Our line was awesome," DePaola said. "They're big, they're huge, they're fast, they're smart and they just opened up a lot of holes.
While Hereford pounded away with primarily short gains up the middle, dominating time of possession, Franklin answered with big plays, including Mark Venable's 56-yard touchdown run that pulled the Indians to within one with 3:52 left in the first quarter.
The extra-point attempt, however, was blocked.
The Bulls tried throughout the remainder of the half to extend their lead, twice putting together long drives but each time coming up empty, first on a fumble and then on missed field-goal try.
"We told them: 'We're going to have to be patient. We're going to have to be satisfied with 3 1/2 yards times three is a first down,' " Turnbaugh said. "Eventually, you'll get the read that [you] need."
After Austin Brown kept Hereford in the lead by blocking a 21-yard field-goal attempt, the Bulls finally secured control with 11:53 left, when quarterback Greg Fultz ducked through a hole in the left side and scored from the 8-yard line, capping a seven-play drive.
H 7 0 0 7 — 14
F 6 0 0 0 — 6
H—DePaola 32 run (Ruark kick)
F—Venable 56 run (kick failed)
H—Fultz 8 run (Ruark kick)