The best thing Mount Hebron High School's football team can say about Friday night's 30-12 defeat against Northeast of Anne Arundel County is that the Vikings did not finish the way they started.
When the Vikings begin looking at film of the Northeast game in preparation for Saturday's league opener at Atholton, they might want to start with the second half.
Hebron's first two possessions after intermission yielded the only bright spots for the Vikings. Quarterback Mike Miller connected with Jeff Heiser for a 16-yard touchdown pass to complete a 70-yard drive that opened the half. Then Mike Fadrowski ran 10 yards for another score early in the fourth quarter.
Those moments made the score respectable, but they could not erase a disastrous first half for Hebron (1-2), which committed error upon error to help the Eagles to an insurmountable 30-0 halftime lead.
Not that Northeast (2-1) needed the assistance. The Eagles amassed 187 yards -- 180 rushing -- to Hebron's 45 total yards in the first half, while scoring on four of theirfirst five possessions. With 2 minutes, 57 seconds left in the half,Northeast had all its points.
The night started with a bad omen for Hebron. The Vikings received the opening kickoff and immediately tried to surprise Northeast with a trick play. But Fadrowski's attempted cross-field lateral pass to Travis Hairston sailed over Hairston and eventually rolled to Hebron's 1-yard line, where Hairston fell on the ball. Two plays later, Miller was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
The tone had been set.
"We worked on that play all week,and there was nobody on that side (covering Hairston)," Hebron coachSteve Benninghove said. "We knew we had to score three or four touchdowns to stay with this team. As a coach, you take that chance. You either look like the biggest fool or the brightest man on the field."
After the safety, Northeast's offense began carving up the Vikings. The Eagles took the ensuing kickoff and drove 54 yards in just seven plays, overcoming two penalties along the way. Quarterback K. C. Murphy scored on a 5-yard run, and Derek Dolch -- who scored two touchdowns himself -- kicked the first of four extra points to give Northeast a 9-0 lead with 8:28 left in the first quarter.
Things got uglyafter that.
The Vikings drove inside the Northeast 25, then saw aholding penalty and 10-yard sack of Miller push them back to midfield. Then on fourth down, Northeast's Chris Kelly blocked Chris Leinauer's punt, scooped up the ball and ran 45 yards for an apparent touchdown. But the score was nullified due to a clipping penalty.
Northeast turned the ball over on downs but made up for its error on its next possession by marching 38 yards on two plays. Dolch ran 26 yards over the middle for a touchdown and kicked the extra point to make it 16-0 with 34 seconds left in the quarter.
Disaster continued for Hebron. On the Vikings' next play from scrimmage, Miller and Hairston fumbled their handoff exchange, and Northeast linebacker Alan Grunderrecovered the ball on the Vikings' 28. Nine plays later, Dolch scored again on a 3-yard run putting the Eagles up, 23-0.