Even trailing by 18 points in the first half of Friday night's Class 4A East final, No. 4 Broadneck never strayed from its ball-control game plan.
Eventually, that strategy paid off — in a most memorable way.
Seemingly on the verge of being eliminated by No. 3 Arundel, the visiting Bruins scored 36 of the final 43 points, taking the lead on a 3-yard run by quarterback James Mullis with 3:31 left, then sealing it less than a minute later on Domenick Johnson's 56-yard interception return in a stunning 39-28 comeback win.
"No matter what happens on our team, we know you've got four quarters and we can pull through in the end," Mullis said. "Every time we need our defense to come through, our defense [comes] through, and that's what that game was."
The Bruins (10-2), who avenged a 10-6 loss to Arundel in September, advance to the Class 4A state semifinals, where they will take to the road Friday night or Saturday afternoon against the winner of Saturday's game between Wise and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Arundel (10-2) was seeking its third trip to the semifinals in four years.
The improbable win came a week after Broadneck also rallied from 11 down to defeat No. 5 Old Mill.
"You've got to be lucky, but you've also got to have a lot of heart and believe in what you're doing," Broadneck coach Jeff Herrick said. "We've done that the last two games. I don't know how much longer it's going to go, but I like what I see."
The host Wildcats, who entered the night averaging 39 points, looked as if they would run away with this one early, building a 21-3 lead by late in the first half on touchdown runs of 1 and 6 yards by Joseph Blackwell (19 carries, 75 yards) and several long completions from quarterback Nick Rosati to 6-foot-3 receiver Tyler Washington.
Undeterred, Broadneck stuck with its original plan, grinding out yards on hard runs by slotback Grant Harris (19 carries, 125 yards) and efficient passing by Mullis (155 yards passing with two touchdowns, 81 yards rushing with two touchdowns).
"We said at halftime that we wanted to stick to the game plan and not get out of sync," Herrick said. "We wanted to try to run the ball and keep it out of their hands and just see what we could do."
The Bruins quickly got back into the game, moving the ball effectively on the ground before Mullis found receivers Jamie Ott and Trae Byes on touchdown passes of 40 and 59 yards, respectively.
It was a stark contrast from earlier in the game.
Arundel dominated in the opening minutes, taking advantage of an early turnover to grab the lead on Rosati's 27-yard pass over the middle to Washington. Rosati finished 22-for-35 for 290 yards.
The Wildcats pushed that lead to 21-3 by late in the first half when Joseph Blackwell scored from a yard out after a 46-yard reception by Washington and then on a 6-yard run over the left side after his team forced a punt deep in Bruins territory.
Broadneck, meanwhile, struggled to move the ball for much of the first half. Even when the Bruins did, they got little out of it, driving 64 yards on their opening possession but settling for Adam Greene's 37-yard field goal.
B 3 7 7 22—39
A 7 14 7 0—28
A—Washington 27 pass from Rosati (Cetrone kick)
B—Greene 37 FG
A—Blackwell 1 run (Cetrone kick)
A—Blackwell 6 run (Cetrone kick)
B—Ott 40 pass from Mullis (Greene kick)
B—Byes 59 pass from Mullis (Greene kick)
A—Cetrone 17 pass from Rosati (Cetrone kick)
B—Mullis 1 run (Solomon pass from Mullis)
B—Mullis 3 run (Greene kick)
B—Johnson 56 interception return (Greene kick)