The moment the Old Mill defense collided into South River running back Trashaun Timmons on a 2-point conversion try in overtime, something so elusive and yet so important had finally arrived for a young Patriots team.
In a rainy back-and-forth slog with the Seahawks on Friday night, a team of mostly first-year starters might have finally discovered who they are. A squad that could ride a roller-coaster game, get things done offensively in overtime before holding back the opponent.
A team that could win tough games.
By converting two points in overtime and preventing South River from doing the same, the Patriots prevailed, 28-26, in the Ravens RISE High School Showdown.
“It felt so great to win, especially a dogfight,” said Old Mill running back Maximus Jones, who scored three touchdowns. “A dogfight is different.”
Old Mill (3-2) only converted one of three 2-point attempts in regulation, but was willing to take the risk in overtime. Coach Mike Pfisterer had faith his players could do it.
“They wanted to run the ball. We’re going to go with what they wanted to do,” Pfisterer said. “Those two points were huge. Not going to lie, the offensive line wanted a couple of those plays back — they get credit for it.”
Winning a game like this will work wonders on the team in the road ahead.
“You want to peak at the right time. You want to keep getting better,” Pfisterer said. “We’re playing a lot of guys and just trying to find the right recipe. ... I just love the way they battled, coaches battled. It was a grinder.”
South River switched Timmons to running back from quarterback. Behind the senior, the Seahawks nearly won this game.
“The kids bought in and I’m so very proud,” South River coach Steve Erxleben said. “There’s a lot of silver lining to this and so much football in front of us.”
Both sides traded punts and turnover on downs throughout the fourth quarter. Eventually, that had to benefit someone. When Old Mill upped its tempo, that shortened distance took little time to cover.
Led by senior Daquan Dorsey, Old Mill backs battled through clusters of Seahawks on the left side, jutting up to the 10-yard line. Dorsey cruised into the end zone, and after a failed 2-point conversion, the Patriots led their hosts, 6-0.
Old Mill remained loose and ready to cruise. Running backs faced little resistance zooming over the wet ground, churning out to an easy score by Jones. The 2-point conversion, once again, didn’t work.
[ High school sports roundup from Sept. 30. ]
Down 12-0, South River didn’t just need a good drive. It needed to pull off something big. Timmons did that. He scooped the ball on the kickoff and took off running, slipping through every grabbing hand to run 54 yards.
His return sparked the Seahawks. Quarterback Finnegan Mulvihill met Jeremy Berger to bring South River within the red zone. Timmons rolled through the Patriots down to the 1.
Mulvihill broke the plane, and after a good kick, South River narrowed Old Mill’s lead to 12-7.
Now knowing they could tangle with the Patriots, five points didn’t faze the Seahawks. They headed off one Old Mill drive with a fumble recovery, forced another to end with a punt.
With that final campaign of the first half, the Seahawks flashed what could make them really good.
Mulvihill pulled back from the pocket around the 30, while Timmons sprinted down towards the furthest pylon he could find. The quarterback, two weeks into the job, found the former quarterback for a go-ahead touchdown.
South River failed to convert the extra-point attempt then, but the lead changed.
It would take Old Mill more than a quarter to score again. A long campaign in the third quarter, composed predominantly of runs and Seahawks penalties, resulted in Jones slipping into the end zone and Keshawn Green converting two points.
The Patriots got to enjoy their 20-13 lead for 10 seconds.
Timmons evaded everything Old Mill threw at him, racing to the end zone. After Garrett Bates’ kick sailed through the uprights, the Seahawks had their visitors locked at a 20-20 stalemate.
“These players, this program, this competition is very important,” Erxleben said. “I trust [Timmons] as a leader of this team. I mean, I’ve never seen a corner crack a defensive lineman.”
Neither teams wrapped things up in regulation. Old Mill took the ball first in overtime and carried it to fruition quickly: Jones had the touchdown, Dorsey the 2-point conversion.
Timmons scored the touchdown on South River’s turn. Mulvihill tasked him again when it came to converting two points.
The left side had been such a friendly space to Timmons all game, but he didn’t go left.
The running back steered for the middle and crashed into a wave of Patriots who poured down on him. Linebacker Toman Jones, who led the tackle, leapt in the air, kicked out both legs, and led the victory run back to his teammates on the sideline.
“One hundred percent effort,” said Maximus Jones, who put in for many of the stops on Timmons all game. “It’s all about heart. And we had more heart today.”