Broadneck football almost ended its season as it began — scoring only three points against a team that would play for a championship.
But this wasn’t the same team that buckled without a touchdown in Week 1. The Bruins would have their say, even if it happened the literal second their season ended.
Senior quarterback Cam Catterton skidded a few yards back to his own 33-yard line. Broadneck’s chances of making it to the Class 4A state final were over, and he knew it — it was 42-3 Quince Orchard and only seconds remained.
Still, he launched a pass — and junior wide receiver Eli Harris caught it. He tumbled into the pylon, back hitting the grass, a touchdown pass nestled in his hand.
The scoreboard never changed, and the unbeaten Quince Orchard players charged the field to celebrate before the touchdown call was even made. But Broadneck fell not with a whimper but with a score in a 42-9 defeat.
“The kids didn’t want to go out like that,” coach Rob Harris said.
Broadneck had its chances. Twice, the Bruins (10-2) were on the doorstep of the end zone. It mattered little, though, as the Bruins suffered the fate of so many teams over the past decade-plus — left in the dust of a Quince Orchard team promised for a state championship stage.
“We had two opportunities and we didn’t score early,” Harris said. “They got up on us. Our kids kept fighting, but they were a better team tonight.”
Even as Quince Orchard welcomed Broadneck with a first-play, 58-yard run to the house courtesy of sophomore Iverson Howard, the Bruins did not fold. All week, they believed they could win and maintained that belief like a fire in the cold on the one-hour bus ride to Montgomery County.
Catterton (13-for-31, 234 yards) proved it when he hit senior Machi Evans for 43 yards. This would lead to only a field goal — a 37-yard boot by Christopher Coleman — but even so, the Bruins demonstrated that they could hang with the “mighty Quince Orchard,” as Harris called them.
History had been made then, at least. With that kick, Coleman notched his 14th field goal of the season, snapping a record held Clay Harris (Havre de Grace) and Scott Abt (Cambridge-SD).
“He loves kicking more than anybody I’ve ever seen,” Harris said.
Quince Orchard replied with a second Howard touchdown from 18 yards out. But the next drive, Broadneck’s defense stuffed the Cougars for three-and-out.
The teams were standing on equal footing, but already the Bruins were showing signs of stumbling. The offense drummed up little, underscored by sacks, punts and a fumble.
And they were the only ones having that issue by the second quarter.
The echoing whine of at least two vuvuzelas soundtracked Quince Orchard’s journey back to itself. Despite flags warping the Cougars’ first few plays of its third drive, quarterback Savan Briggs would still cross the goal line for a 21-3 lead.
Just when it looked as though Broadneck’s defense would deny it a fourth score before halftime, Quince Orchard split away again. On third down, Briggs raced 52 yards to punch the hosts’ 28-3 advantage before half. By game’s end, the Cougars outpaced the Bruins 419-240 in total offense.
“We felt we weren’t being as aggressive [defensively] all year and I think that kind of caught us,” Harris said. “Football is a momentum game and they definitely had the momentum. That was tough for our kids to overcome.”
The wheels continued to pop off in the second half and took some other parts with them. Quince Orchard scored again — a 21-yard reception by Tavahri Groves — and again — a 1-yard rush by Isaiah Blackman-Boyd after a 76-yard Howard run.
Catterton came close to putting six points on the board long before the final second. The senior signal-caller connected with Eli Harris (five catches for 132 yards) on a 57-yard pass to the 11 that seemed to phase through the very fingers of every Cougars defender that tried to block it. Aided only by a penalty flag, Catterton was not so successful the next few passes he attempted, as Quince Orchard broke up a fourth-down try from the 5.
There would be no Cougar stopping Eli Harris and Catterton in the end, though, and that’s what made Rob Harris proud: the resilience despite odds and circumstances. When the coach addressed his players afterward, he looked upon faces that had been almost entirely new to the starting group this fall. Only seven players returned from last year’s squad. And though Broadneck graduates plenty of core players now, including Catterton and Evans, Harris felt proud in a team that proved a rebuild could be done with belief.
Not a lot of people thought they’d be good, Harris said with a smile. Maybe they were better than people thought.
“We’re not just a year-to-year team. We’re a program that wants to compete every year,” Harris said, “and I think we’re right there, competing every year. We just got to get that last step. Maybe it’s next year, maybe it’s the year after. But we’re going to get it.”