Defense comes up big for Owls, 14-12

Westminster stops 4 Frederick drives inside 20 to win 5th straight

Football

High Schools

October 20, 2001|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Big plays in the red zone last night helped keep host Westminster in a zone of its own.

Facing Central Maryland Conference-rival Frederick, the Owls stopped four drives inside their 20, including two in the final 5:05, en route to a 14-12 win, their fifth straight.

The victory was crucial for the Owls (6-1, 4-0), keeping them in contention for a Class 4A playoff spot and a CMC title.

On a day when their offense was held to 42 yards in the second half, their defense, paced by 245-pound tackle Howard Ward, was the difference.

"The defense came up big for us tonight," said Westminster coach Scott Tobias. "What else can you say about them? They were resilient. They bent, but they didn't break."

All told, Westminster held Frederick (4-2, 3-1) scoreless on four of six trips inside the red zone. The first came seconds after Eric Saunders' 1-yard dive put the Owls ahead 14-6 early in the second quarter, and Jerrod Brown returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards before getting caught from behind by Wyatt Hall at the 5.

The Owls stopped the Cadets for losses twice on runs and benefited from two false starts in stopping Frederick's scoring bid at the 19.

In the second half, Frederick also came away empty after getting as close as the 6 and 14 - the latter when the Cadets failed to convert a fourth-and-seven with 5:05 left. After having a punt blocked at their 17 with three seconds left, the Owls came up big one last time, stopping quarterback Kyle Pittman's screen pass as time expired.

"We just dug deep within ourselves, took it on as an 11-man team and gave it all we had," said linebacker Todd Edmondson.

Frederick got off to a quick start, thanks to two long runs. First, Ryand Smith cut through a hole and ran down the left sideline 53 yards before being caught from behind by Jason Stone.

On the next play, Brown broke a nearly identical run down the sideline for a 19-yard touchdown, giving the Cadets a 6-0 lead after 1:20.

"Some of the kids, I think, learned on the fly how quick they really were," said Tobias of the Cadets' offense.

Westminster, however, was quick to answer, using a 30-yard scramble by quarterback Brad Baer to set up his 49-yard touchdown pass to Stone, giving the Owls a 7-6 lead with 8:56 left in the quarter.

The Owls then used a 14-play, 70-yard drive - with Saunders rushing 11 times for 49 yards - to extend their lead to 14-6 on Saunders' 1-yard dive off the right side. Saunders, a 1,000-yard rusher, later left the game with a bruised thigh and sat out the second half.

Frederick cut the lead to two after recovering a fumble at the Owls' 29 and scoring on Brown's 2-yard plunge with 10:03 left in the game.

Call in statistics

The Sun is compiling statistics for football, boys and girls soccer, field hockey and volleyball for publication of area leaders on Mondays. Coaches or team statisticians should call the high school stats message line at 410-332-6786 or 1-800-829-8000, extension 6786, between 11 p.m. Friday and 10 p.m. Saturday.

Nominate athletes

The Sun accepts nominations for its Athletes of the Week on Sundays, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., at 410-332-6200 or 1-800-829-8000, ext. 6200. One boy and one girl will be selected each week and featured in Wednesday's editions. To be nominated, athletes must play for their high school team and be available the next Monday to have their pictures taken. Only coaches can nominate Athletes of the Week.

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