After suffering a 40-7 defeat last week to South River, the St. Mary's football team could have redeemed itself and secured sole possession of the Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference title yesterday with a win over host Severn.
But Severn nipped the Saints, 7-6, to set up a possible three-way tie for the conference title.
"We played great all year, and this is a tough way to end the year," said St. Mary's coach Brad Best, whose squad will have to settle for a share of the title with St. Paul's and Severn, if the Admirals win next week against Southwestern.
"We were up for this, but every time we got something going offensively we were hit with a penalty or we missed an assignment. We made a few mistakes in this game and it cost us."
Standing at the other end of the field was a happy, but emotionally drained Severn coach, Doug Williams.
"We worked awful hard for this and it feels just great," said Williams. "Even if the [MSA C] conference title wasn't on the line, we still would have been fired up for this game. There's an intense rivalry between these two schools."
St. Mary's jumped out on top in the second quarter, 6-0, on a counter-play that freed junior wingback Steve Kurpinsky for a 64-yard run up the left sideline for a touchdown.
Severn (7-2) had opportunities to tie the game in the first half, but a pair of fumbles halted its only two drives and helped nTC preserve the Saints' six-point halftime lead.
Severn's offense came together in the fourth quarter, mounting a 10-play, 76-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 6-yard pass from senior Kyong So to flanker Brendan Haggerty.
"Brendan made the biggest catch of his career and Kyong did his job by getting him," Williams said. "We were the underdog coming in, they outweighed us by 100 pounds on the line, but our kids gave 100 percent and overcame it. I thought we would wear down in the fourth quarter because of their size, but for some reason we didn't."
Haggerty, who had two other key catches of 20 and 12 yards on the winning drive, finished the day with four catches for 45 yards.
The Saints fumbled the ball twice in the second half but it was their second turnover that proved most costly because they never regained possession.
Severn senior tailback Daniel Wu, who was the Admirals' workhorse all day as he carried the ball 17 times for 136 yards, helped keep the ball out of the Saints' hands in the waning moments by gaining a pair of crucial first downs on runs of 8 and 16 yards.
"I told my guys [after the game] to keep their heads up," said Best. "Last year we finished last in the conference and this year we're tied for first. We still have a lot to be proud of."