Middletown quarterback Sean Ganley completed just five of 17 passes against No. 3 Overlea last night, but he made them count.
In a game where neither team could establish much of a running game -- thanks in part to swamp-like field conditions -- Ganley was the difference, leading the fifth-seeded Knights to a 17-7 victory over the top-seeded Falcons (11-1) in a state Class 2A quarterfinal at Dundalk Community College.
Middletown (11-1) will meet the winner of today's Allegany-Wicomico game in the championship game at College Park next weekend.
The loss ended Overlea's attempt to reach the state final for the first time since 1988. The Falcons were making their area-best sixth-straight playoff appearance, but are still looking for their first state championship.
"What a great year," a teary-eyed Overlea coach Terry Ward said. "I'm very proud of these kids. We won 11 games. We just made a few mistakes [last night]."
In the first half, Ganley completed three of eight passes, but the three completions totaled 111 yards.
His first complete pass, a 50-yarder to Jason Delauter on third-and-seven, gave Middletown the ball at Overlea's 16-yard line. Six plays later, Mike Pilch scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run with 11 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the half. Kevin Reed's PAT made it 7-0.
The Knights made it 14-0 40 seconds before halftime on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Ganley to Delauter and Reed's PAT. Scott Montgomery rushed three times for 41 yards to set up the score.
Ganley's 111 yards passing accounted for the bulk of the Knights' 167 yards of offense in the first half. The Falcons gained just 58 yards of total offense, 53 on the ground.
"Middletown did pretty much what we expected them to do," Ward said. "They are quick defensively, and they hurt us with their passing game."
Overlea unleashed a passing attack of its own in the second half.
The Falcons pulled within 14-7 on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Bernard Fitchette to Bernard Hopkins with 3:02 left in the third quarter. The key play in the drive was a 15-yard completion from Fitchette to Hopkins on fourth-and-five at Middletown's 36.
Middletown answered with an 18-play drive that culminated in a 35-yard field goal by Reed with 7:08 remaining in the game.
Overlea got the ball back at its 21, but the drive stalled at Middletown's 49 with 5:22 remaining. The Falcons' final hopes were vanquished when Don Lowe intercepted Fitchette at Overlea's 40 with 2:00 remaining.