Old Mill just couldn't find a way to stop Meade quarterback Marcus Smith in Friday's Class 4A East Region final.
Smith's running sparked the visiting Mustangs on offense throughout the night, especially on the team's final drive. That's when he ran for 65 of his 144 yards and scored on a 6-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds left to give No. 7 Meade a 28-21 victory over No. 6 Old Mill, the defending state champion.
Meade (10-2) has won tough road playoff games in consecutive weeks. The Mustangs beat Arundel last week, then knocked off the Patriots (9-3) to advance to a state semifinal next week.
Smith was the key. The speedy 5-foot-11 junior quarterback kept making big plays. His 63-yard run in the first quarter set up his 11-yard scoring run moments later as Meade jumped out to an early 14-0 lead.
But Old Mill slowed the Mustangs until the fourth quarter, when Smith directed Meade on a game-winning 12-play, 80-yard drive. The 6-yard TD run came on a third-and-4 play.
"I had to put the team on my back on [the last drive]," Smith said. "The middle was wide open, and I just ran it in."
Smith's well-timed cutbacks kept hurting Old Mill. When Smith found a hole, his speed often set him free before the Patriots could do much about it.
"He's an outstanding athlete," Meade coach Rich Holzer said. "He was unbelievable. He made all the right plays. There's not much he can't do."
Smith's 34-yard pass to Daivon Nixon was the key play in the team's opening drive, which ended with Kyle Evans running in for a 7-yard touchdown. After the Mustangs stopped Old Mill, Smith's 63-yard run helped them score again.
His 11-yard touchdown run three plays later made it 14-0 with 5:15 left in the first quarter.
But the Patriots slowly began to come back. They stuck with their grind-it-out running game, and Raykwon Young's scoring runs of 3 and 4 yards in the second quarter tied the game.
Meade's offense stayed quiet, but the Mustangs took the lead when Jason Thomas picked off a Brady Ludwig pass and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown and a 21-14 lead late in the third quarter.
Ludwig brought the Patriots back when he threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Carl Chance with 6:07 left in the game. Josh Dagg's extra point hit the crossbar and bounced over to tie the game at 21.
But Old Mill missed on three quality scoring chances. The Patriots had the ball at the Meade 10 before Thomas' interception.
They also missed on a fourth-and-1 from the Mustangs' 5-yard line and threw an interception on halfback option from the Meade 31 in the fourth quarter. That opened the door for Smith.
"They have a very athletic quarterback," Old Mill coach Chad McCormick said. "They just scored when they needed to at the end of the game. I'm extremely proud of how our kids played."
Class 4A East Region final Meade 28, Old Mill 21
M 14 0 7 7- 28 OM 0 14 7 0- 21
M- Evans 7 run (Stokes kick) M- Smith 11 run (Stokes kick) OM- Young 3 run (Dagg kick) OM- Young 4 run (Dagg kick) M-- Thomas 97 interception return (Stokes kick) OM- Chance 12 pass from Ludwig (Dagg kick) M- Smith 6 run (Stokes kick)