First, the open date next week on Severna Park's football schedule was a hinderance to the Falcons' playoff hopes.
Now, it's also become a momentum-breaker.
Severna Park won its first game Friday night after opening the season with losses to High Point and Frederick. But the Falcons must wait until Oct. 5, when Meade pays a visit, to build on their victory.
"This wasn't just another ballgame to us," Severna Park coach Andy Borland said after the 21-13 win over previously undefeated Old Mill. "Next week we're idle. If we lost this one, we would have lost three in a row going into a two-week break. Boy, that's death."
Instead, the Falcons are alive. But just barely.
Old Mill took a 7-0 lead late in the first half on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Eric Scott to tight end Eric Longazel, who was left free on the Severna Park 26 when defenders Gerald Cager and Eric Brown collided.
Scott was 7-of-17 for 166 yards and no interceptions. He had two completions of 37 yards and another of 53.
Later in the game, Brown returned a Mike Dobrzykowski punt 44 yards for a touchdown that snapped a 7-7 tie with 1 minute, 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
"This was my first time (returning punts), so I didn't know what was going on," he said. "I just grabbed the ball and started running."
Severna Park had evened the score two minutes earlier when junior lineman Mark Miles recovered an Aaron Cree fumble in the end zone.
Not the most conventional way to score, but Borland wasn't nit-picking.
"I'll take them any way I can get them," he said.
The Patriots hadn't allowed a point in their first two games. Borland reminded his players of the challenge at halftime.
"I told the offense, 'OK, we've got to put some points on the board against a team that hasn't had any points scored against it. Can you do it?" They all said, 'Yes sir.' It's that simple," he said.
Old Mill's Melvin Carter intercepted a Steve Foreman pass on the Patriots' 38 early in the third quarter, and a 53-yard completion to Shawn Craig (2 catches, 90 yards) down the right sideline gave the visitors a first-and-goal on the 9.
William Beverly (62 yards) scored three plays later, but Old Mill failed on the two-point conversion and Severna Park remained ahead, 14-13. The Falcons scored on their next possession when Travis Koballa took a pitch-out to the right side and raced 13 yards to the end zone. John Novak had gained 38 yards on the same call three plays earlier.
Old Mill had the ball in Severna Park territory on its last two possessions, getting as close as the 16 with 2:31 left. But the Patriots were unable to score.
"It was a good football game," Borland said. "The fans got their money's worth. For two dollars you couldn't get a better show at a movie."
The Falcons rushed for 182 yards, led by John Jennings with 101.
"I knew they could run the ball," said Old Mill coach Pete Regala. "That's their game, the power game."
"I think our kids played real well," he said. "I'm real proud of them. We'll be back next week."
If only Severna Park could say the same thing.