Hammond again played its waiting game to perfection.
The co-No. 5 Golden Bears dropped three of their first four matches for the second time this week, but rallied to drop host Oakland Mills, 44-24, in a matchup of previously undefeated teams in Howard County. Hammond needed to come back against another previously unbeaten county rival, Centennial, on Tuesday.
"I wasn't worried at all," said Hammond coach Bill Smith of his team's slow start. "I felt very comfortable with Dan Proulx, Chris Williams, Jimmy Jackson and Jimmy Weston coming up."
Hammond (11-1, 5-0), the defending county champion, turned a 10-point deficit into an eight-point advantage after pins by senior 145-pounder Proulx and senior 152-pounder Williams, No. 6 in the state and a county champion two years ago.
"I think those pins put our team on the ropes," Oakland Mills coach Steve Carnahan said.
But Oakland Mills (9-6, 4-1) fought back and cut the lead to 26-24 when 160-pounder Sam Phillips pinned Hansel Henry in 3:10.
Jimmy Jackson then came through in the clutch. Only in his third week back after sitting out for academic reasons, last year's county runner-up at 171 showed signs of regaining his past form.
The senior exploded early against sophomore Scott Sheldon by recording two takedowns and two back points in the first minute. Then, Jackson became tentative and did not rack up another point for the next three minutes.
At the end of the second period, Jackson, ahead 6-3, collapsed to the mat with cramps on his left side. After a few seconds on the mat, Jackson stood up for the third period with a grin.
"I think that timeout really helped them and really hurt us," Carnahan said. "This match showed me that Jackson is really getting back into tip-top shape."
Jackson quickly got a takedown 20 seconds into the final period, and pinned Sheldon 33 seconds later to expand Hammond's lead to 32-24 with two matches remaining.
"I really gained the momentum back after I got up with my coach and team yelling me on. We knew if we didn't step it up, we weren't going to win," Jackson said. "Everything is finally getting into its right place for me now."
Smith had a stronger critique of Jackson, who put off wrestling while seeking a football scholarship.
"It's been a long process for him," he said. "He's in good shape now, just not wrestling shape yet."
Hammond closed the meet by winning six of the last seven contests, all by pins. Jimmy Watson at 189 and heavyweight Pedro Barbosa each won by pinfall.
The pre-meet strategy for Oakland Mills was to dominate the early matches because Hammond's strength and the Scorpions' weakness are the middle and higher weights.
While the Scorpions won four of the first six matches, they only managed to take a modest 18-8 advantage.