High School sports

Defense, Ahmad Taylor carry Arundel football to 6-0 win over Dundalk in Class 4A/3A state semifinal

Ahmad Taylor just needed a minute to take it all in. It had certainly been a crazy road to the football promised land.

Taylor scored the only touchdown on a 20-yard run midway through the third quarter, and the Arundel defense made it stand up in a 6-0 win against host Dundalk in the Class 4A/3A state semifinals.


The No. 9 Owls (10-2) had a first-and-goal at the Wildcats’ 5-yard line with 24 seconds left in the game, but Arundel intercepted quarterback Ja Bonner with 14 seconds left to seal the victory.

Arundel football players celebrate their 6-0 win over Dundalk in Friday night's Class 4A/3A state semifinal.

The No. 11 Wildcats (10-2) will advance to Friday’s Class 4A/3A state championship game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where they will face Charles County’s North Point at 7:30 p.m. If the Wildcats win, it will be the school’s first football state title since 1975.


Taylor is Arundel’s third quarterback in the playoffs after the first two were knocked out by injuries. When the regular season ended, he was a running back. That’s why Arundel coach Jack Walsh called his number.

“We’ve been preparing for this since the summer,” Taylor said. “During the season, we’ve played so many hard teams that prepared us for this. Like coach always preaches, we are comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Arundel quarterback Ahmad Taylor shakes Dundalk's Keith Barnes as he rushes toward the end zone for a touchdown in Friday night's Class 4A/3A state semifinal.

The Arundel defense hasn’t given up a touchdown since the second quarter of its state quarterfinal win over Seneca Valley. With the game scoreless Friday, Arundel took over at its own 48 with 2:55 left in the third quarter. On the first play, Taylor called his own number, running up the middle for 32 yards to the Dundalk 20. On the next play, he found a seam in the Owls’ defense and ran untouched into the end zone for the 6-0 lead with 2:12 left in the third quarter.

After that, the Wildcats’ defense went to work. Arundel held the Owls to 22 yards on their next drive, then no yards on their next possession as the fourth quarter ticked away.

Just when it looked as if the Owls were finished, Bonner pulled a rabbit out of his hat. With less than a minute to go and facing a third-and-19, the senior quarterback found Jacob Knighton for a 54-yard completion, taking the ball to the Arundel 5 with 24 seconds left.

The Owls lost yardage on the next play before a Bonner pass into the end zone was intercepted by Arundel’s Pat Connelly with 14 seconds left to seal the win.

“Coach said somebody needed to make a play, and I was the one who did,” Connelly said. “I just looked up, and the ball was right there.”

Arundel's Ahmad Taylor, left, celebrates with Shariff Glassgow, center, and Chris Downs after Taylor scored a touchdown against Dundalk in Friday night's Class 4A/3A state semifinal.

“Evan Jones is our defensive coordinator, and he has these kids wired in,” Arundel coach Jack Walsh said. “They play hard, they play fast, and they don’t quit. They just love playing football, and now we get to go that for another week.”


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For Dundalk, the season ends two games short of the team’s ultimate goal.

“Everything went wrong that could go wrong, from the play-calling to the blocking, to the execution,” Owls running back Jordan Fiorenza said. “They wanted it more than us, and they got us.”

Class 4A/3A state semifinal

Arundel 6, Dundalk 0

A  0-0-6-0 — 6

D  0-0-0-0 — 0


A — Taylor 20 run (kick failed)

Dundalk running back Jordan Fiorenza is stopped by the Arundel defense during Friday night's Class 4A/3A state semifinal.