Aberdeen stops Havre de Grace to clinch state playoff spot, 37-20

November 12, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

To make the state playoffs, Aberdeen High faced a must-win situation last night in the season finale against rival Havre de Grace.

But the emphasis this week was on finishing on the upbeat side, not on postseason play.

The Eagles certainly did that, turning a close game into a rout in the final 17 minutes to defeat Havre de Grace, 37-20, at Harris Field.

"We got the rankings on Wednesday and before practice, we tore them up," said Aberdeen coach Kevin Reilly. "That wasn't the most important thing.

"What was more important was that these kids have done a job with a great attitude. The thing that mattered is that we ended on a high note."

Aberdeen (9-1) clinched at least a share of the Harford County championship by capitalizing on two Warrior fumbles in the fourth quarter and turning them into 10 points.

Until then, Havre de Grace had given the Eagles a stern battle although it is still missing two key players from an already short-handed roster.

Leading rusher Mike Wood returned and "played pretty well", according to coach Tom Marron, but Aberdeen's depth was too much of an obstacle for a 21-player squad.

"We fought and struggled. They just had too many people," said Marron.

Havre de Grace (6-4) went down to its third consecutive defeat despite a brilliant performance by quarterback Billy Jackson, who converted three long-yardage fourth-down plays, two for touchdowns.

With the Warriors leading 14-13 after a 42-yard Jackson to Jack Donaldson touchdown on fourth down, Aberdeen responded by driving 50 yards to seize the lead on a 7-yard touchdown run by Keith Marshall.

Lost fumbles on the Warriors' next two possessions were converted into a 28-yard field goal by Paul Gasdia and a three-play, 45-yard scoring drive capped by Andy Gasida's eight-yard touchdown on a counter play.

With 5:38 remaining in the game, Aberdeen was almost assured of making the Class 2A playoff field.

Jackson drove the Warriors to the Aberdeen 9 on the next series, and finally got the team into the end zone on a fourth-down pass to James Clark after the Eagles pushed them back to the 28.

But the sequence took considerable time, and a 37-yard kickoff return by Marshall set up Aberdeen for one final scoring drive, Dondre Gilliam bolting in from the 12 with 46 seconds remaining to apply the icing.

"Route 40 schools have not won a championship since 1989, and that's what we stressed," said Reilly.

The coach would not single out anyone, but lauded his defense for "playing great" against the multi-talented Jackson.

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