Western Md. wins 16th straight

Backs intercept 4 passes, topple Dickinson, 38-20

October 18, 1998|By CHRISTIAN EWELL | CHRISTIAN EWELL,SUN STAFF

Anticipating a rushing attack that had been punishing in past years, Western Maryland defensive backs Marvin Deal and Tom Lopato expected to primarily provide run support against Dickinson yesterday.

Deal and Lopato were busy in another way, however, returning interceptions during a 38-20 win over the Red Devils in Westminster.

Deal and Lopato intercepted two passes apiece, and Ron Sermarini threw two touchdowns for the Green Terror (6-0, 4-0), who broke a Centennial Conference record by winning their 16th straight regular-season game. The previous record of 15 was set by Dickinson in 1987-88.

Ten years ago might as well have been a million for the Red Devils (3-3, 1-2), who brought the wrong hyphenated descriptors with them to Westminster. Instead of the first-rate performance they needed to stay in the league championship, they delivered so-so.

The Red Devils' offense turned the ball over five times, rendering a season of lofty goals such as a championship into one more focused on improvement.

You can't give a good offensive team like that that many opportunities," Dickinson coach Darwin Breaux said. "We just didn't make good decisions with the football... All we can do is get ready to play Swarthmore next week. We really can't, change what's happened."

Not long after Sermarini's 15-yard touchdown run put Western Maryland up 7-0 with 9:53 left in the first quarter, Deal had the first interception, returning a Sam Miller pass 32 yards to the Dickinson 34.

"A couple of them were nice passes," Deal said of the offerings of Miller and Jeffrey Sturgeon, "but some of them they just threw up for grabs. That's what we hoped to get them to do."

Three plays later, Tony Russo's 1-yard run extended the lead to 14-0 at the 6.16 mark.

The Red Devils didn't score until the end of the first quarter, when Miller hit Mike Meagher for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 2:31 left, narrowing the margin to 14-7.

Joe Kendorski's 3-yard touchdown catch from fullback Jay Tharpe put Western Maryland ahead 21-7. Dickinson got within 21-14 on a 12-play, 72-yard drive that ended on Mike Bright's 19-yard catch with 5:48 remaining.

Sermarini's first touchdown pass of the game, a 24-yard strike to Kendorski. extended the Green Terror's lead to 28-14.

The Red Devils had opportunities at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second. A 47-yard catch by Bright gave his team a chance to score with less than a minute before halftime. But the offense faltered and had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Joel Heintzelman for a 28-17 score.

Dickinson's first drive of the second half featured the rushing absent in the first half, with runs of 19 and 16 yards by Peter Hawken getting the Red Devils to the Green Terror 21. However, the offense stalled again, settling for a 38-yard field goal by Heintzelman for 28-20 with 13:18 left in the third quarter.

The Red Devils enjoyed good field position in the middle of the third quarter until Lopato intercepted a second-and-10 Sturgeon pass at the Green Terror 10 to end a promising drive.

Lopato suggested that the defense's domination of Dickinson on the ground, allowing only 104 yards (89 below the team's average), contributed to his and Deal's success.

Passing "was against their strength," Lopato said, "but that meant that they weren't running the ball well."

The Green Terror extended its lead to 35-20 when Teron Powell caught Sermarini's second scoring pass from 39 yards out with 10:49 left in the second half.

Sermarini completed 14 of 26 passes for 213 yards, and threw, two interceptions. Sixty-one of those yards were gained on six passes to Kendorski, who also ran for 115 yards on 21 carries.

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