ANNAPOLIS -- Six days after its upset win at Springbrook, Meade came back to the reality of Anne Arundel 4A football at Al Laramore Field last night.
The Mustangs were done in by an Annapolis team with a swift, swarming defense, a powerful offensive line and the composure to pull the game out with a long, swift touchdown drive in the waning minutes.
Annapolis won, 15-8, by driving 62 yards in only five plays to score with 3 minutes, 51 seconds to play. The rapid march came immediately after Meade took an 8-7 lead with 6 minutes, 56 seconds to go.
Annapolis sophomore running back Jerry Thompson broke Darrin Bosin's tackle in the backfield and ran 16 yards down the right sideline to cap the drive. Quarterback Juan Johnson then hit Shawn Cole on a curl pattern in the end zone to put the Panthers up, 15-8.
"You're a championship offense. Down 8-7 in the fourth quarter, you put your heads down and came off the ball the hardest of the game," Annapolis coach Roy Brown told his team. "That was a great effort. A championship effort. Just outstanding."
Brown later said: "We do have the makings of a championship team. Meade was the same team that, frankly, humiliated Springbrook [20-14]. But our offensive line came off the ball and pushed them down the field. We just didn't want to lose."
Annapolis (1-1) still had some uneasy moments after No. 11 Meade moved to a first down at the Panthers 34. But Demond Galloway sacked the Mustangs' John Oxendine for a 5-yard loss and, on fourth down, Shawn Woodlin dropped halfback Kenny Walker 9 yards short of a first down.
Meade coach Hayse Henderson said his team's inability to stop Annapolis in the late going made all the difference.
"I was surprised Annapolis drove the ball the way they did. I think there must have been a breakdown on our defense," he said.
But Panthers line coach Bill Phebus pointed to the blocking of Brandon Tinker, Andrew Yiannoulou, Jeff Golas and Galloway. "We ran right at their strength, and that's a tribute to the line," Phebus said.
"We were behind vs. a very good football team with a lot of seniors , and we're very young [eight seniors]," Phebus said. "But the line stuck their noses in there and really did the job."
That came after Meade, frustrated all night long by the Panthers defense, suddenly started moving on its ninth possession. Oxendine passed 31 yards to Jerald Johns, and Walker swept end for 22 more yards, as the Mustangs moved to the Annapolis 14.
Johns scored on a counter pitch in from there, and kick holder Mike Fabyaanic passed to Walker for the two-point conversion that gave Meade its short-lived lead.
It wiped out Annapolis' 7-0 halftime advantage taken on a 24-yard pass from Johnson to Matt Criscimagna. The ball was tipped by Mustangs defensive back Derrick Barr, but Criscimagna made the reception at the 2 and toppled into the end zone four minutes before halftime.
In that first half, Annapolis held Meade to 26 total yards, including 15 on six carries for Walker. Against Springbrook, Walker ran for 165 yards and three touchdowns.
Leading the Panthers' defensive charge were Dan Flynn, Jeff Ogle, Ray Henson and Woodlin. Meade was held to 134 total yards, which included 72 on its touchdown drive.
"Annapolis didn't do anything different than we thought. Maybe there was too much press this week. Maybe it took away our line of thought," Henderson said.