Although No. 9 C. Milton Wright and Fallston went into their annual battle with identical records (8-1, 6-1), there was no comparison last night in the fog and rain at Fallston.
The visitors wasted no time claiming their fourth straight Harford County championship. They scored on their first possession and went on to get a touchdown in each of the last three quarters to win, 27-0.
The key play came in the opening minute of the second half when Wright's Jason Tharpe jarred the ball loose from Fallston quarterback Brad Thomas and Jimmy Greene, a 6-foot-3, 295-pound junior tackle, fell on the ball for the Mustangs at midfield.
Thomas had reached the Wright 45 on the play before and as it developed that was the home team's deepest penetration of the night.
Om the other side, whatever comeback hopes the Cougars might have entertained were --ed when the visitors went from midfield to the end zone in eight plays. Chris Streett's third straight extra point made it 21-0 halfway through the third period.
Despite slippery footing, Tharpe churned out 102 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns. The effort sent him to 1,391 yards in rushing and pushed his metro-leading figures to 22 touchdowns and 137 points.
The 5-foot-11, 197-pounder was complemented by fullback Rich Juergenson, who, when he wasn't blocking for Tharpe was rushing 14 times for 68 yards.
Senior tackle Mike Sprouse (6-5 and 267) shrugged off his blocking job, but singled out senior guard Don Behler (5-10, 195) and junior tackle Zeke Johnson ( 6-2, 282). These right-side linemen helped clear the way for Tharpe to pound out big chunks of yardage.
Even with all that, the emotional tone might have been set on the game's opening series when the Mustangs rolled 55 yards in 12 plays to score. The touchdown was a 4-yard pass from quarterback Mike Schmidt to senior Eric McEvoy, out with an injury since the opening week of the season.
"It was great having him back," Tharpe said.
Three plays in the drive indicated Fallston was in for a long night. First Tharpe made a fourth-down rush of a yard for a first down at the Fallston 43.
Then Schmidt's first pass was a down-and-in that wide-open tight end Jason Leizear turned into a 30-yard play, running the last 14 to the 1. A recovered fumble set Wright back, but on third down Schmidt hit McEvoy, who stepped away from defender Dave McKinney to make the catch.
Schmidt is a 55-percent passer who came in with 621 yards and six touchdowns (only one interception). Last night, he was 10-for-15 for 120 yards.