Damascus drives past Southern, 13-6

November 28, 1993|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Anne Arundel County's futility in the state high school football playoffs continued yesterday as Damascus of Montgomery County defended its Class 2A state title with a 13-6 victory over Southern at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium.

Played in a driving rain that made field conditions extremely sloppy, the difference in the game was a relentless 17-play, 80-yard drive by the Hornets to start the second half. Damascus' ability to keep the ball away from Southern also was a factor.

"There were three main reasons we got here," said Southern coach Buck Gardner.

"No serious injuries, luck and a solid football team got us this far."

Two of the three weren't enough for the Bulldogs (11-2), who did not get that lucky break yesterday.

Mike Ryan (21 carries, 137 yards) capped the decisive drive with a 3-yard touchdown run after Southern had deferred on the second-half kickoff and chose to start on defense.

The move to gain good field position backfired when the Bulldogs couldn't stop the Hornets.

Damascus (12-1) used 8:14 of the third period in marching to the game's decisive score. The Hornets ran 19 plays to only eight by Southern in the third period (31-18 for the half) as the weather did not agree with the state's most explosive team.

Southern tied Beall of Allegany for a new state record for points scored (366) in the regular season.

The Hornets won last year's title, beating Walkersville 12-7 in the championship. Yesterday's title was a state-record seventh for coach Al Thomas, who won his first five at Seneca Valley before moving to Damascus six years ago.

Southern was attempting to become only the third Anne Arundel County team to win a state championship in football. Arundel first did it in 1975 under Jerry Mears. Annapolis, under Al Laramore, was the other in 1978.

The Bulldogs had never been to the playoffs before this season, which was their 20th under Gardner.

Damascus was able to stop Southern's power fullback Jason Poknis in the second half and keep the ball away from the Bulldogs.

Poknis carried 13 times for 76 yards, including a touchdown in the first half, but was held to 20 yards on eight attempts in the second half after the Hornets started keying on him.

The rest of the Southern offense was pretty much non-existent because of the gang-tackling Hornets, led by senior nose guard Erik Bickle and linebackers Lucas Milne and Fern Jaramillo.

Damascus botched the game's first scoring opportunity after driving nearly 82 yards to start the game. The Hornets used 13 plays and six minutes before turning the ball over.

On second down at the Southern 6, the Hornets' Ryan fumbled into the end zone and Southern's Jamar Mullen smothered the loose ball for a touchback.

After exchanging punts, Southern mounted its only scoring drive. Poknis carried six times for 49 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge, on an eight-play, 56-yard drive.

Poknis set up the touchdown with a 19-yard run to the 1.

The Bulldogs never got the extra-point kick off as holder Joe McCafferty couldn't find the handle. Southern held a 6-0 lead with 10:14 left in the half.

The Hornets answered with a 78-yard march in 10 plays with Bill Swaney crashing in from the 3-yard line to tie the game with 5:27 left in the half. Dean Turnbull kicked the extra point to give Damascus a 7-6 lead. A 41-yard burst by Ryan on the first play of the drive ignited the Hornets.

Southern's junior two-way lineman Philip Brown was forced to watch from the sidelines because he was ejected in Southern's 43-24 semifinal victory over Dunbar of Baltimore.

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