Overlea coach Terry Ward said he could see the intensity in Steve Lockett's eyes.
With the Falcons trailing Edgewood by four with 9 minutes remaining in their Class 2A quarterfinal last night, Lockett fielded an Edgewood punt inside his 20, and returned it to Overlea's 43.
Eight plays later, quarterback Bernard Fitchette (17 carries, 104 yards) scored the winning touchdown on a 2-yard run with 4:45 left to give the fifth-ranked and top-seeded Falcons (11-0) a 24-20 victory over No. 12 and eighth-seeded Edgewood (8-3) at Dundalk Community College.
Ward said Lockett's punt return did more than give the Falcons good field position.
"You could see the intensity in his eyes," Ward said. "To me, that showed the kids, hey, we could do it."
Overlea, making its sixth consecutive appearance in the state playoffs, will meet the winner of last night's Chopticon-Middletown game in a semifinal at Dundalk Community College next weekend.
It wasn't easy for the Falcons, however. They had to rally from a 20-8 first-half deficit, and did not lead until Fitchette's fourth-quarter touchdown.
Then Overlea had to weather an Edgewood's own comeback attempt. The Rams drove to Overlea's 13 with 2:05 remaining, but were stopped on fourth-and-one when Bernard Hopkins stopped Corey Anderson for no gain.
The second half was a defensive struggle, while the first half was wide open offensively.
Edgewood took a 7-0 lead with 3:06 remaining in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Anderson.
The Rams got the ball back when Craig Davis recovered Tyrese Barmer's fumble at the 50. Six plays later, Lawrence Worthington (19 carries, 153 yards) scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to give Edgewood a 14-0 lead with 11:56 left in the first half.
The Falcons finally generated some offense on their next possession. Fitchette's 37-yard run for a touchdown on fourth-and-four, and the two-point conversion run by Barmer (24 carries, 118 yards), cut Overlea's deficit to 14-8 with 8:52 left in the second quarter.
Edgewood responded with an eight-play, 59-yard drive, culminating in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Keith Kimmel to Drew Pekala to make it 20-8 with 5:30 left in the second quarter.
Overlea started its next drive on the Rams' 50, and scored on a nine-play drive, capped by Barmer's 1-yard touchdown run with 1:39 remaining in the first half. Barmer's run for the two-point conversion pulled the Falcons to 20-16 at halftime.