The Joppatowne Mariners (7-4) trailed Rising Sun (6-5), 20-6, at halftime in Friday night's Class 1A quarterfinal game, but cut the deficit twice in the second half with two touchdown passes from quarterback Damon Davies to tight-end Chris Weber.
But the comeback was not enough. Two Mariner attempts at extra points failed, allowing the Tigers to pull out a 20-18 victory.
The Tigers led, 12-6, at halftime. When they returned from the break, the Mariners fell even further, to a 20-6 deficit after Rising Sun quarterback Nick Long hit Curtis Dean with a pass just outside the end zone. Dean then ran in for the score.
Joppatowne then mounted a comeback. Davis connected on a pass to Weber to pull the Mariners to 20-12. A two-point conversion attempt failed.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, Davis hit Weber again to pull the team within 2 points, 20-18.
Joppatowne then attempted a 2-point conversion, but fullback Kilo Mack was stopped short of the goal.
Mack dominated the Mariners ground game with 99 yards in 16 carries.
Davies was 4-15 in passing.
In a last-ditch effort to win, Joppatowne attempted an on-side kick with 38 seconds left in the game. But the ball went right into the hands of Long, who let the clock tick off.
Rising Sun scored its first touchdown on the second down of the game after receiving the kick-off.
Long connected on a 95-yard touchdown pass to Keith Mackey, who was almost tackled at the 5-yard line by the Mariners' Mark Johnson. Rising Sun went for the two-point conversion, but failed, giving them a 6-0 lead.
The Mariners played the game without linebackers B.J. Barnes, Mike Taylor, and offensive guard/defensive tackle Jay Jay Owsik, all out due to injuries.
Mariner Kevin Hockaday, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound fullback, sat out the second half with an injured neck.
"It took a while to get wound up," said assistant Mariner's coach Bill Waibel. "They established a running game which set up their passing."
The injured players, he said, "definitely hurt us . . . it just comes down to a numbers game. We had no depth."
Rising Sun advances to the semifinals next week to play the winner of Smithsburg-Beall game played Friday night.