Bilal Bahar's 74-yard halfback pass to Omar Parker with 1:07 remaining helped lift the Maryland Scholastic Association all-stars to a 26-21 victory over the senior all-stars of Baltimore County in yesterday's 11th annual Greater Baltimore Football Classic yesterday at Johns Hopkins University.
Fumbles were common throughout the contest at Homewood Field, with the MSA holding a 4-3 edge in turnovers. But it was Bahar's pass that had the MSA supporters celebrating and others shaking their heads in disbelief.
"One play, that's what separated the two teams today," said Kenwood coach Fred Myers, head coach of the Baltimore County team. "One play."
It was a trio of seniors that combined on the "one play" that gave the MSA its sixth consecutive victory. Forest Park's Bahar took the pitch from Dunbar quarterback E. J. Fitzgerald, shed a tackle, and aired the ball out to Dunbar's Parker, who caught the ball on his fingertips and never broke stride to the end zone.
"I told the coach in the huddle [during the timeout before the play] that Bilal can throw the ball and we had practiced it a few times during the week, but we didn't put too much emphasis on it," said Parker, a 6-foot, 170-pound split end. "I told them to run the play and I would catch it if he threw out there. I delayed like it was a sweep and the cornerback bit on it, and I got behind him."
The county All-Stars had reason to believe the streak would end at five when James Lewis of Catonsville plunged in from the 2 to give them a 21-20 advantage with 2:06 to play. However, the county's late score was not late enough.
"I can't believe this," said Lewis, who led Baltimore County rushers with 83 yards on nine carries. "After I scored that touchdown, we thought we had it. This is very disappointing."
The disappointment started early for the Baltimore County All-Stars when the MSA turned a fumble by Overlea's Tyrese Barmer into eight points in the first quarter. Southern's Chris Lewis capped the five-play scoring drive with a 23-yard burst up the middle, and Severn quarterback Brad Fowler connected
with Edmondson's James Coombs in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Baltimore County used a fumble recovery by Dulaney's Jung Yi to answer and pull to within 8-6. After the recovery, the county All-Stars scored two plays later, a 9-yard run by Barmer and a 21-yard touchdown run by James Lewis of Catonsville.
The MSA's third fumble of the first half set up a five-play, 35-yard drive by the county All-Stars. Barmer finished the drive with a 9-yard run that put his team ahead, 13-8.
A 44-yard return by Lewis on the ensuing kickoff allowed the MSA to begin its drive near midfield. Two big plays, including an 18-yard run by Bahar and a 20-yard pass from Fitzgerald to Parker, set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Mark Zeller of St. Mary's and gave the MSA a 14-13 lead at the half.
A couple of big defensive plays by Forest Park's Tonnka Bryant and Jarmar Womble of Mount St. Joseph helped give the MSA excellent field position in the third quarter.
Despite consistently strong defensive efforts by Tim Daughton (Hereford) and Brian Reese (Eastern Voc. Tech), the MSA drove the ball down the field before Bahar was sprung free on a block by Zeller for the 1-yard touchdown.
Terrence Suber, The Baltimore Sun's Player of the Year, had an ordinary day on offense but came up defensively with two interceptions and several key tackles from his position in the secondary.
"We made a lot of mistakes and the county team played really well. We were just lucky to get the play," said Severn and MSA head coach Jim Doyle. "It was a great pass, and we were lucky it worked."