North County upsets No. 1 Patterson, 18-15

November 27, 1994|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Sun Staff Writer

Just when Patterson's Ryan Lewis said you can't top this, Topper Ellis did.

Ellis raced 90 yards on a kickoff return with 2:15 remaining for his 20th touchdown as No. 7 North County stunned top-ranked Patterson, 18-15, in 4A state semifinal action in East Baltimore yesterday.

The victory over the Clippers (11-1) advances the Knights (10-2) to the state championship game Friday night at Annapolis against Largo (10-2), a 21-13 victor over Springbrook (9-3).

In what is 5-year-old North County's fourth consecutive playoff appearance, the Knights, who have won seven in a row, are the first Anne Arundel 4A team to reach the final since Annapolis lost to Randallstown in 1984. Annapolis (1978) and Arundel (1975) are the only county teams to win a state football title.

It took the dramatic kick return by Ellis to save North County, which took a 10-0 lead into the final period only to have Patterson mount a furious comeback.

Up to that point linebackers Marvin Mobley (21 tackles, eight unassisted) and Steve Tomshack (15 tackles, five unassisted) and down lineman Mike Smith (19, six unassisted) led a spirited defense that had shut down the Clippers, who came in averaging 37.2 points a game.

Melvin Braxton stripped Knights receiver Maurice Bowie and recovered the fumble at the Knights' 43 to set up a 26-yard burst up the middle by Lewis. Mike Jaski's kick put the Clippers on top, 15-10, with about 2:30 left.

The ensuing kickoff went right down the middle on what Ellis called "a lucky bounce" to him at the 10. Ellis led all ball carriers with 122 yards rushing on 16 attempts (184-for-1,499 season).

Knights coach Chuck Markiewicz said until the Ellis jaunt, the "game was not slipping away, they [Patterson] were taking it away and the lucky bounce is something we don't practice."

Patterson coach Roger Wrenn said he ordered his team to kick it through because he would rather have the Knights go 70-80 yards.

"It was only about two minutes left and they're capable of getting big chunks of yardage, so we didn't want to have them too close. We knew how great a returner Ellis is," said Wrenn

"They didn't mean to kick it to me and we were going to run a reverse, but it took a lucky bounce and I took off," said Ellis, who redeemed himself after setting up Patterson's first score.

Carnest Peele intercepted an Earl Sewell pass seconds into the final period and returned it 35 yards, but another 15 yards was tacked on after Ellis was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after the tackle. That gave the Clippers a first down at the Knights' 25.

Six plays later, quarterback Willie McGirt, who went over 1,000 yards rushing (1,007) and 1,000 passing (1,021) for the season, scored on a fake from 13 yards. Lewis, who everybody thought had the ball on the McGirt touchdown, ran for two points to make it 10-8 with 8:49 left.

"I let my team down with that penalty and had to make up for it," said Ellis.

A 15-yard run by Ellis gave the Knights a first down at the Patterson 17 and a subsequent Sewell-to-Lou Brown 10-yard pass play set up the game's first score, a 31-yard field goal by V. J. Impallaria with 9:44 left in the initial period.

Sewell, who completed 14 of 25 for 172 yards to become the fourth Knights quarterback to throw for 2,000 yards (147-for-278, 2,152 yards) in a season, directed a 16-play, 77-yard drive for the second score. He dove in from the 1 on a sneak and Impallaria kicked the extra point with 10:40 left in the half to make it 10-0.

2(North County ..3 ..7 ..0 ..8 ..-- ..18

Patterson .. ..0 ..0 ..0 .15 ..-- ..15

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