Predictions that North County's big-play, run-and-shoot offense would someday hurt somebody in a big way came true last night.
Quarterback Eric Howard burned Severna Park for 242 yards and four touchdowns -- three to Damon Martin -- as the unranked Knights ambushed the visiting and No. 10 Falcons, 28-20, to all but end their chances for postseason play.
Howard hit Martin for touchdowns of 14, 30 and 22 yards as North County (5-2, 4-2) twice built 14-point leads in the first half and led 21-14 at the intermission.
Severna Park pulled within 21-20 when Tim Bowerman passed 31 yards to Rob McCandless with 7 minutes, 25 seconds left in the third quarter, but North County came right back on a seven-play, 74-yard drive for the clincher.
Howard and John Bilheimer hooked up on 15-yard curl pattern for the score, and North County had the biggest win in its two-year history.
"Wasn't this fun? This was definitely a good high school football game," said Knights coach Chuck Markiewicz. "Severna Park is the standard. If you want to be like that, you have to beat those kinds of teams."
It could be argued that Severna Park beat itself. The Falcons (4-3, 4-2) intercepted Howard seven times -- four in the second half -- but repeatedly failed to capitalize.
In the second half, Severna Park lost two fumbles and an interception. Bowerman was sacked five times in the last two quarters. Except for their last-gap drive of eight plays, which ended in an interception by Knights back Brian Aguayo, the Falcons did not have more than six plays on any second-half possession.
"They out-hit us in the first half. That's the answer," said Falcons coach Andy Borland, who went deep to his bench after losing top running backs John Jennings (16 carries, 94 yards), Gerald Cager and Aaron Cree in the first half.
Despite Howard's 14-of-36 effort for the 242 yards, Markiewicz said that North County was not keying on a specific weakness.
"We've been capable of doing this all year, but just haven't. If we can be consistent, we'll be all right -- we just haven't been," he said.
"We see things in every team to exploit. We just don't do it.
Severna Park survived repeated early mistakes in last week's 14-6 victory over Meade, but they cost the Falcons dearly last night.
The first came on their fourth play, when punter Travis Koballa barely snared a high snap from center before shanking his kick 3 yards to the Falcons' 39. Howard's screen pass to Anthony Walker went for 25 yards, then Howard hit Martin on a quick shovel for the last 9 and a 7-0 lead with less than three minutes elapsed.