Severna Park denied by Gaithersburg, 13-0

Missed opportunities hurt Falcons in semis

Class 4A football

November 20, 1999|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

GAITHERSBURG -- Severna Park's dream of playing in its first state championship football game ended in Montgomery County last night in the Class 4A semifinals with a 13-0 loss at Gaithersburg.

The host Trojans (11-1) prevailed at John Harvill Stadium, named after their legendary coach of the last 43 years, by scoring a first-period touchdown and a game-clinching 51-yard interception return by Norman Smith with 18 seconds left in the game.

Gaithersburg will play the winner of today's 11 a.m. game at Poly between Eleanor Roosevelt (9-2) and Patterson (10-1) in Thanksgiving weekend's 4A state final at the University of Maryland, College Park.

"We got by an excellent football team," said the 76-year old Harvill, who received two unsportsmanlike penalties and was ejected for coming onto the field in the final period.

"They [Severna Park] have a really tough defense, and offensively we stopped them because we have probably the best secondary we've had here. And that helps you against the long pass."

It will be the Trojans' fifth appearance in a state final since 1986, when they won their first of two state championships, the other in 1992.

In their sixth playoff appearance, the Falcons (10-2) were playing in their second state semifinal, the other in 1987 when they lost by 10-6 to the eventual 4A state champion in Montgomery's Springbrook at Severna Park.

Severna Park tied the '87 team's school record for most wins in a season under second-year head coach J.P. Hines, who had tears streaming down his face while talking to his players after the loss.

"Our kids have nothing to be ashamed of, and they represented our school and Anne Arundel County very well," said Hines.

"We were right there. I thought we could hold them to none [points]."

The respective running games played a major part in the outcome as Trojans junior running back, Semaj Richardson, filling in for team rushing leader Jay Colbert, carried 27 times for 159 yards.

Severna Park's leading rusher, Derek Dixon, who came into the game with 1,260 yards, was held to 9 yards on just six attempts while the Falcons went to their passing game.

Quarterback Chris Odom completed nine of 28 for 116 yards and was intercepted twice. Paul Gillette caught three passes to finish with a school-record 37 for the season and tight end Doug Hoffman caught four passes.

Severna Park missed out on a couple scoring opportunities late in the second period after the Trojans had scored on the game's initial drive to take a 7-0 lead on Ron Frazier's 2-yard run and Kevin Richardson's extra-point kick.

Three interceptions set up Falcons chances that came up empty. Ryan McGarry picked off the first Trojans pass and after a Starke Mueller interception, a 34-yard field-goal attempt by Gillette was blocked.

Later before intermission, Gillette picked off his school-record 11th interception with 45 seconds to go. A potential touchdown pass from Odom to Arthur Friday was batted away by Smith at the last second on a fourth-and-two from the Trojan 27.

"We just didn't capitalize. I never thought the team with less turnovers [Gaithersburg four to Severna Park's three] would lose."

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