HERSHEY, Pa. -- The magic came alive before 18,552 fans at Hersheypark Stadium last night.
Maryland's Big 33 football team, which coach Doug DuVall (Wilde Lake) dubbed "the magic team," defeated Pennsylvania, 17-9, in the 34th Big 33 Football Classic.
"It was something magic," DuVall said. "They have set a high mark for Maryland high school football.
"It [the win] makes Maryland football legitimate."
This was the first time Maryland had won a Big 33 game since 1987, when it defeated Pennsylvania, 26-22. Pennsylvania won last year's game, 42-24.
Defense was the story in this game. Neither team scored in the first half, and Maryland held only a 3-0 lead entering the final period.
But with 5 minutes, 8 seconds left in the game, quarterback Matt Byrne (Damascus) threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Asim Penny (Bishop McNamara) to give Maryland a 9-0 lead. Kicker David DeArmas (DeMatha) made the extra point to put Maryland up by 10.
Pennsylvania kicker Jeffrey Sauve made a 37-yard field goal with 3:10 remaining to make the score 10-3.
Then, with 1:38 left, Russell Thomas (Oxon Hill) intercepted a pass by Scott Milanovich that was intended for wide receiver Detrich Jells. Thomas got the ball at the Maryland 15 and ran 85 yards for a touchdown.
DeArmas' extra point attempt was good, and Maryland led, 17-3.
Byrne, who will attend William and Mary in the fall, completed 14 fTC of 27 passes for 181 yards.
Pennsylvania quarterback Thomas Marchese threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jells with 47 seconds left, but the two-point conversion attempt failed.
The tempo of the fourth quarter was a complete turnaround from the first half.
"Everybody got fired up [in the second half]," said tackle John Summerday (Great Mills), who intercepted a pass on the Maryland 25 with 6 seconds left in the first half.
"I told them they were born and bred to be thoroughbreds," DuVall said about his halftime speech to the team. "I told them settle down and run like thoroughbreds."
Maryland went ahead, 3-0, with 1:35 left in the third quarter on DeArmas' 21-yard field goal. He also averaged 45.7 yards on six punts.
"I've never been in a more exciting football game in my life," said DeArmas, who will attend the University of Maryland.
"For us to come up here and play Pennsylvania, it's an honor," he said. "But for us to come up here and win is unbelieveable."
Running back Larry Washington (Randallstown) said Maryland's sizable front line kept it in the game.
"We had a lot of weight, a lot of people who are 300 pounds," said Washington, who also will attend Maryland.
Linebacker John Taliaferro, one of six DeMatha graduates playing for Maryland, led his team with 13 tackles, followed by Jamal Cox (Gilman) with 11. Taliaferro, who is headed for Notre Dame, was named Maryland's most valuable player.
Pennsylvania out-rushed Maryland, 137-62. Maryland was penalized 59 yards to Pennsylvania's 5.