In what the losing coach called "just a great high school football game", Severna Park's mastery of the kicking game made the difference in a 31-26 shootout over host Glen Burnie last night.
The No. 13 Falcons (6-0 league, 6-2) won their sixth straight game and clinched at least a tie for their third Anne Arundel County championship in four years, and ninth overall.
With the win, Severna Park can capture the undisputed county title by defeating visiting archrival Annapolis next week. But it wasn't easy.
No. 20 Glen Burnie (4-2, 6-3) twice led by six points in the early going, but Falcons linebacker Joe Brooks blocked a Lee Kinzler punt to set up his team's first score, then later tackled Kinzler in the end zone for the safety that capped Severna Park's rally to a 22-12 halftime lead.
In between the block and the safety, 5-foot-6, 215-pound junior John Jennings (25 carries, 105 yards) ran for touchdowns of 1, 2 and 20 yards en route to boosting his league-leading rushing total to 1,121 yards.
Severna Park built a 29-18 lead when Steve Foreman passed 17 yards to Darrick Moran with 3 minutes, 57 seconds left in the third quarter. But after Glen Burnie rallied for 71-yard drive ending with Dennis White's 4-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion pass from Carlton Ash to Kinzler, it was Severna Park kicker Travis Koballa's turn.
Koballa first lofted a punt 37 yards to the Gophers' 2 -- setting up Eric Massey's sack of Ash for a safety one play later -- then punted 43 yards to pin Glen Burnie at its 20 in the waning minutes.
Eight plays later, Eric Hemmer jarred the ball loose from White and Eric Brown recovered at Severna Park's 42 with 3:49 left.
It was a game that had just about everything -- including the late appearance of 265-pound Falcons tackle Marcus Coates as a running back. Coates rumbled for 8 yards on his only carry.
"It's a heart attack every time I come up here," said Falcons coach Andy Borland, a 33-6 winner over Glen Burnie last year. "They don't have the size we have, but they have the quickness.
"Glen Burnie can beat Old Mill [next week], and I would love it," said Borland, whose team needs an Old Mill loss if it is to advance to postseason play.