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Mervo's hunch pays off in 9-8 win over Edmondson

After Mervo quarterback Garvin Nicholson threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Khalil Williams to tie Edmondson with 2:47 left in Friday night's game, Mustangs coach Patrick Nixon played a hunch.

The kicking game hadn't gone well in practice because the holder got hurt, but senior Irvin Collins-Boykins said he could handle it, so Nixon agreed. Collins-Boykins set the ball perfectly in place and Donte Ramseur lofted it between the uprights to give Mervo a 9-8 lead that would hold up in the battle of undefeated teams.

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"We were going to fake it initially, because we didn't feel like we could kick, but I just had a hunch," Nixon said. "I said, 'Things have been going well, these kids want it, Irvin said he can do it,' so I just gave him a shot. The kick was ugly but it was pretty at the same time."

Ramseur's might have been the biggest kick in Mervo football history.

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Not only did it give the Mustangs the Baltimore City Division I championship, but it sealed a perfect regular season. The Mustangs (9-0) matched their win total of the last two years combined and put the finishing touch on their first winning season since 2008, which was also the last time they qualified for the regional playoffs.

Both Mervo and Edmondson will begin regional play next weekend.

"I've been waiting for this since my ninth grade year. It meant the world to me," said Mervo senior Tyreke Rudolph. "Defense [made the difference] and my players, I love them. They stepped up in the big game.That's what we needed. We just played our game. We didn't let all this hype get to us."

After the Mustangs scored, they needed a strong defensive stand to make the one-point lead hold up. Red Storm quarterback Michael Taylor needed just three plays to move his team 52 yards on a completion to Phillip Adam and two to Damani Thomas. Add a Mervo roughing-the-passer penalty and a 9-yard run by Brian Campbell the Red Storm (9-1, 5-1) had second-and-goal from the 2-yard line

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But a sack of Taylor and couple of penalties had them moving backward and time ran out on their comeback attempt.

"We should have put the game away, but we got a procedure penalty in the backfield and that hurts," Red Storm coach Corey Johnson said. "You just can't do that against good playoff teams. You're not going to get second and third chances. But, hats off to Mervo. They played us really tough inside."

Both teams had trouble moving the ball early. Mervo scord on a safety when Ali Malcolm tackled Jae'Quan Hill in the end zone less than two minutes into the game.

Edmondson took the lead early in the second quarter on Taylor's 88-yard pass to Adams, who bobbled the ball at first and then out-maneuvered defenders to reach the end zone. Hill added the conversion run for an 8-2 lead.

On Mervo's final drive, Nicholson, a junior, took his team 70 yards in one minute. He hit Williams, a freshman, for a 16-yard gain and Rudolph for a 12-yard gain before throwing the touchdown pass.

Then Ramseur lined up for the extra point.

"I had to get that," Ramseur said. "I wasn't going to overtime, because I seen what they did in overtime (beating Dunbar last week in triple overtime). I wasn't trying to go through that."

For Collins-Boykins, it was a great way to finish off the regular season.

"We started from nothing," he said, "Nobody believed in us. We had a 4-6 season [last year]. Nobody believed in our program as a whole. We're not just a football team. We're a program. We owe this to everybody that went to Mervo — our alumni, the school, our fans, our parents. We owe it to the city. It's a great win."

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