Hammond had to wait 25 years between playoff games. It won't have to wait nearly as long for the next one.
After defeating visiting Southern of Anne Arundel, 26-21, on Friday night on a last-second touchdown run by sophomore Dionte Jones, the Golden Bears (10-1) will visit top seed McDonough (10-1) on Friday for the Class 2A South regional championship.
Friday's win was the first playoff victory in school history for Hammond, which clinched a share of its first county title last week. The Golden Bears have won three consecutive games on last-second plays.
"These kids have come a long way; they were just the dogs for so long," Hammond coach Dan Makosy said. "They just needed a little bit of guidance, and they're taking off with it by themselves. They're doing a great job."
Southern senior Davonte Burke scored on receptions of 35 and 63 yard from quarterback Hunter Riggs to give the Bulldogs a 13-7 halftime lead. Burke (107 yards on 15 carries) scored again on a 54-yard run in the third quarter and caught the two-point conversion from Riggs to make it 21-14 Southern entering the final quarter. Junior Devon Paye (220 yards on 24 carries) had Hammond's first two touchdowns, on runs of 31 and 8 yards.
Hammond scored early in the fourth quarter on run by Jones to cut the Southern lead to 21-20 but failed on the two-point conversion attempt after a low snap. It got the ball back on its own 21-yard line with less than six minutes left and embarked on the game-ending touchdown drive. The Bears converted once on third-and-9 and once on fourth-and-12. With less than 10 seconds left, Hammond quarterback Josh Whaley tried to change a play call without realizing how much time was left, and Hammond did not use its last timeout to set up a game-winning field goal.
"We had to go for it; it was tough. Either we were going to score or we weren't [and] the game was over," Makosy said.
Jones was initially stopped behind the line of scrimmage but reversed field and dove for the goal line, reaching the ball across the plane as time expired.
"The linebackers overpursued, and I just cut back. I saw the goal line, and I just dove and I knew I could get it," Jones said.
Southern's upset of then-No. 1 Arundel last week had moved it to the No. 3 seed. The Bulldogs had last made the playoffs in 2006.
S 7 6 8 0 -- 21
H 0 7 7 12 -- 26
S--Burke 35 pass from Riggs (Brown kick)
H--Paye 8 run (Ray kick)
S--Burke 63 pass from Riggs (kick failed)
H--Paye 31 run (Ray kick)
S--Burke 54 run (Burke pass from Riggs)
H--Jones 5 run (run failed)
H--Jones 1 run