Severn's junior quarterback Brad Fowler engineered Saturday's 16-6 Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference victory over St. Mary's, but had to get up off of the ground several times to do it.
"Theirline outweighed our line by so much, it's not even close," said Fowler, a left-hander who was sacked six times for minus 48 yards in all.
Yet the slender Fowler (6-1, 171 pounds) stared down the visitors, completing seven of 12 passes for 108 yards, including touchdown tosses to Jason Wade of 13 and 10 yards.
The season-ending victory gives the Admirals (7-3 overall) a share of the conference title with the St. Paul's Crusaders.
Severn, St. Mary's and St. Paul's finished in a three-way tie for last year's league title and were each at 5-1 before Friday night. But the Crusaders (8-1 overall) were 15-0 winners over Boys Latin (4-5, 3-4) Friday.
St. Mary's (7-3 overall) had earlier defeated the Crusaders, 19-14, but subsequently dropped a 23-14 decision to Southwestern. Southwestern later dropped out of thetitle chase, losing to Archbishop Spalding, 13-12, as the Cavaliers ended a three-year winless streak.
"Offensively, we never had a chance to get much going and our defense was on the field too much," said St. Mary's coach Brad Best, whose Saints were unbeaten in league games a year ago until being nipped, 7-6, by the Admirals.
St. Mary's senior running back Joe Conte entered the game ranked third in thecounty with 778 yards and 10 touchdowns, but was held scoreless with16 carries for 62 yards.
St. Mary's senior quarterback Adam Hrebiniak, who entered the game with 587 yards on 37 completions, was three-for-eight for 43 yards on the day.
The Saints trailed, 16-0, in the third quarter before Hrebiniak capped a six-play, 66-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown strike to Keith Kretkowski. But for most of the day, both Kretkowski (five touchdowns, 215 yards on the year) and senior teammate Steve Krupinsky (eight, 409) were silent.
Severn turned a pair of early fumbles by the Saints' Mark Zeller into scores,the second of which -- Graydon Ripley's 35-yard field goal with 29 seconds left in the second quarter -- gave the Admirals a 10-0 lead.
"We just never had any continuity," said Best.
His Saints trailed, 7-0, on their second possession of the game when they missed making a first down on a third-and-inches situation at Severn's 34.
Severn, on the other hand, had the unflinching Fowler, whose perfect execution of the Admirals' option offense spelled the difference in the game.
Often waiting until the last possible instant before pitching the ball to either Wade (18 carries, 54 yards) or Randy Morse (ninecarries, 80 yards), Fowler took several crunching shots from close range.
The best example of his resilience came on the final touchdown march, which went 77 yards in eight plays and gave the Admirals a 16-0 lead with 6:29 left in the third quarter.
With Phil MacWilliams wrapped around his knees and Keenan charging to nail him, Fowler found Wade on a screen pass on the left. The 5-foot-10, 168-pound senior back then sprinted 10 yards into the end zone.
Highlighting that drive were Morse's 28-yard jaunt, a 20-yard pass to Andrew Webb anda pass interferance call which put the ball at St. Mary's 10.
From there, however, it was all Fowler.
"Brad had a lot of pressure on him, but he didn't make any mistakes or throw anything up for grabs," said Severn's first-year Coach Jim Doyle, whose Admirals lost to the Crusaders, 13-7, in their previous game. "Last week, he made some mistakes (five turnovers), but I think that helped him this week."
But if Fowler had witnessed a scene shortly before the game, he might have been reluctant to step onto the field.
As St. Mary's Rory Kiernan pulled his Chevy pickup truck into the Anne Arundel Community College parking lot, the ominous chords of the Beatles' hit "Helter Skelter" blared from its speakers.
"Watch me -- I'm number 75," the6-foot-4, 230-pounder told a bystander as he emerged from his truck."I'm going to be all over Severn's backfield."
True to his word, Kiernan got one of his two sacks Saturday, burying Fowler for a 10-yard loss on the sixth play of the game. Two plays later, Fowler was put on his rump again, this time by Joe Keenan, forcing the Admirals topunt.
But the Saints' Mark Zeller fumbled on their first possession at their own 23-yard line.
Two plays later, Fowler was again onhis back -- this time six yards behind the line of scrimmage at the 13. Facing a third down on the next play, however, Fowler threw to Wade for a touchdown.
Brian Kight's extra point kick gave the Admirals a permanent lead, 7-0, with 4:59 left in the first quarter.
"I knew I had to watch out for guys like Rory, and I got punished a little bit," Fowler admitted. "But when Jason gets the ball, it's just all over with."
"In the beginning, Brad got a little rattled," said Severn split end Mike Fisher, who caught four passes for 65 yards. "But he got the job done at the end."
Said Doyle: "He's (Fowler) only a junior, so we're expecting some great things from him."