Defense, Severna Park's forte all season long, was there big time last night as the 12th-ranked Falcons shut down Old Mill, Anne Arundel County's second highest scoring offense, and won the Class 4A East region football title, 14-7.
The host Falcons (9-1) got stellar performances from defensive ends Doug Hoffman and Ryan McGarry, lineman Jimmy Burney and linebackers David Wagner, Todd Soroka and Starke Mueller.
On a night when Severna Park's offense scored just enough to win, the defense held an Old Mill team that came in averaging 33.7 points a game to a second-period touchdown and prevented the Patriots from scoring after a first-and-goal at the 3 with 7: 36 left.
All the scoring came in the first half. The Falcons got a 1-yard touchdown dash from Paul Gillette in the first period, and Gillette, who kicked both extra points, grabbing a 26-yard touchdown pass from Chris Odom in the second period.
It was Odom's school-record 25th career touchdown pass and 18th of the season, also a school record. Odom also broke Greg Korwek's 1997 season record for passing yards (1,352) by throwing for 112 last night to run his total to 1,382 yards.
Derek Dixon ran for 104 yards for Severna Park, but it was the guys on the other side who were the difference.
"Our defense won the football game tonight," said coach J. P. Hines, who has led the Falcons to the second-most wins in school history in just his second season as coach.
"When you have the ball on the 1-yard line and can't put the ball in, they don't deserve it -- and we deserved it."
Old Mill's Mark Smith picked up a fumbled lateral by the Falcons' Paul Gillette and dashed 34 yards before Gillette caught him from behind at the Severna Park 3.
Kelvin Collins, who was averaging 166 yards rushing a game but was held to 52 on 27 attempts last night (including a 12-yard touchdown), plowed ahead to the 1 on first down. The next two downs lost 4 yards back to the 5 with Hoffman and Wagner on the hits.
Wagner batted away Brian Williams' fourth-down pass in the end zone and the Falcons held on from there.
The region title was the Falcons' fourth, the others coming in 1988, 1987 and 1974, and the school's sixth playoff berth. Severna Park did not win region titles but qualified as an at-large team in 1990 and 1994.
Old Mill's fate as the possible eighth seed statewide depends on games being played today in Prince George's County.
The eighth seed plays on the road at the top seed likely to be powerful Gaithersburg of Montgomery County.
"We have to hope for a few teams to lose, but if it doesn't happen, our kids can hold their heads high," said Old Mill coach Mike Marcus.
"That's the first time our offense has been shut down all year, but we knew they were tough defensively."
If Old Mill qualifies, Anne Arundel County will have three teams in postseason for the first time since 1994.