Maryland Scholastic Association coach Obie Barnes said the pressure was on to win yesterday's 10th annual Greater Baltimore Football Classic senior all-star game at Poly.
With the MSA going for its fifth straight victory in the series against Baltimore County, Barnes said he didn't want to be known as the coach who couldn't keep the streak alive.
But with seven turnovers, it was the county that helped to keep the streak alive. Despite out-gaining the MSA, 216-158, frequent giveaways helped the MSA to a 16-9 win.
"I think there was self-imposed pressure not to lose this," said Barnes, the coach at Forest Park and a seven-time member of the MSA coaching staff. "Our streak is very meaningful, and I didn't want to be the guy who ended it."
The win was the MSA's fifth straight, and improved its series record to 7-3. In the past five matchups, the MSA has outscored the county, 116-51.
Trailing 16-9 with less than 3 minutes left, the county made a last-ditch drive that nearly tied the game. Though the county's offense was sluggish, a pair of MSA penalties, on fourth-and-14 and third-and-15, and a later fourth-and-10 conversion kept the drive alive.
Under rotating quarterbacks Tim Burke (Towson) and Jerome Dennis (Milford Mill), the county got as close as the MSA 13 before Loyola's Brad Hoag made his team's fifth interception of the day on Burke's lob toward the end zone with 11 seconds left.
The MSA scored both of its touchdowns within a 28-second span midway through the first half.
First, after an interception by George Wilkerson (Northern) gave the MSA the ball at the Baltimore County 28, Archbishop Curley's Ron Hartman connected with City's Charles Ransom on a fly pattern on the next play to give their team a 7-0 lead.
"We've been working on that play all week," Hartman said. "[Ransom's] defender was sticking with him for the first 10 yards, but then he just got free, and I was able to hit him."
Seconds later, on the first play of the second quarter, MSA tackle Damon James (Northern) sacked quarterback Jesse DeBord (Kenwood) and forced a fumble. After Osrio Prioleau (Spalding) picked it up and rolled it forward, Hosea Tomlin (Southwestern) fell on the ball in the end zone to make it 13-0 with 14:50 left in the half.
"That play really killed us," said county coach Joe Stoy (Perry Hall), whose defense didn't allow an MSA first down in the game's first 20:25. "Overall, I thought we played a very good game, but seeing them score like that really took the wind out of our sails."
The county scored late in the half on a 30-yard field goal by John Snook (Patapsco) to make it 13-3. It pulled to within 13-9 on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Burke to Bernard Hopkins (Overlea) with 3:57 left in the third quarter.
A fourth-quarter field goal by the MSA's Hartman finished the scoring.
It also took much of the heat off Barnes.
"We worked hard all week so I wouldn't be the guy to end the streak," Barnes said. "Now, all the pressure is on next year's coach."
Balto. County 0 3 6 0 -- 9
MSA .. .. .. .7 6 0 3 -- 16
M--Ransom 28 pass from Hartman (Hartman kick)
M--Tomlin fumble recovery in end zone (kick failed)
C--Hopkins 20 pass from Burke (kick failed)
M--FG Hartman 29