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Edgewood uses fake punt to jump-start offense in 20-8 win over Franklin

Neither Franklin nor Edgewood managed to move the ball much through the first half of Friday night’s Class 3A North regional football semifinal. That changed with one second-half play.

When a Rams drive stalled early in the first half on the Franklin 49-yard line, Edgewood coach Charles Johnson called a play his team had practiced all week — a fake punt. Punter Mike Johnson completed a 33-yard pass to Reyshawn Ivery-Gardner to awaken a Rams’ offense that would get three touchdowns from quarterback Antwan Banks and go on to win 20-8.

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“The kids just did an outstanding job,” Charles Johnson said. “We’ve been the underdogs all year long and each week, we proved that we could play with anyone. This is a big one right here, beating Franklin on their home field.”

The third-seeded Rams (8-3) had not been in the playoffs in 10 years and had won only once before in the playoffs. But next weekend they will meet the winner of Saturday’s other 3A North semifinal between top-seeded Milford Mill and C. MIlton Wright for their first trip to the state semifinals since 1979

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“It’s amazing,” said Mike Johnson, a senior. “I haven’t made it to the playoffs my first three years and to do it my senior year and win the first playoff game in Edgewood history since the 70’s is just amazing.”

Charles Johnson said in watching tape of Franklin, a state finalist last season and champion in 2013 and 2014, he saw that the Indians rushed hard and left the middle open so he was waiting for an opportunity in the middle of the field rather than earlier punts from far inside Edgewood territory.

Mike Johnson, no relation to the coach, was prepared.

“I just trusted Reyshawn would be in the right spot and he was there. Then coach told me to float it and not beam it and I did just that and it changed the whole momentum of the game,” he said.

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On the next play, Banks found an opening and sprinted up the middle for an 18-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the second half.

The Rams scored again on their next drive as Antwan Banks, who ran for 189 yards in the game, polished it off with a 20-yard touchdown run. His cousin Deonte Banks, who ran for 75 yards in the game, gained most of the ground on the drive that included 10 running plays.

Trailing 13-0, the Indians (7-4), who were state finalists last season and won state titles in 2013 and 2014, cut the lead to 13-6 early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Larry Smith hit Sam Botchway for a 33-yard catch-and-run. Not much else, however, went right for the Indians.

Sparked by 21 first quarter points, Harford Tech rolled to its first-ever playoff football victory Friday night, shutting out visiting Elkton, 35-0, in an Class 2A East semifinal. The Cobras (11-0) will host another playoff game next week as Kent Island upset top seed North Caroline, 33-29.

The Rams tried another risky fourth-down play on their next drive, going for it on 4th-and-2 from their own 36-yard line. Antwan Banks gained the two yards on the keeper and three plays later, he broke around the left side on a misdirection and raced 59 yards to the end zone for a 20-6 lead with 4:52 left.

The Rams came into the game averaging 325.3 rushing yards per game and Antwan Banks, a junior transfer who played slot receiver last fall at Kenwood, has now run for 1,543 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Edgewood had big plays on defense, too, as the Indians turned the ball over three times. Franklin’s final two drives ended in interceptions. Senior safety Christian McDowell picked of his 11th pass of the season while junior defensive back Monzel Ware’s interception came on last play of the game.

“All year long it’s been a very young group, so it’s been a challenging year, lot of learning pains,” Franklin coach Anthony Burgos said, “but we’re very excited about the future. We had ton of sophomores and freshmen on the field today.”

E 0 0 13 7 — 20

F 0 0 6 2 — 8

E—A.Banks 18 run (Burkhardt kick)

E—A.Banks 20 run (pass failed)

F—Botchway 33 pass from Smith (kick failed)

E—A.Banks 59 run (Burkhardt kick)

F— Safety

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