Randallstown defeats Bel Air, wins region title

Rams use stingy defense to earn 18-15 victory, state semifinal berth

Class 3A North football

High Schools

November 22, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Defense provided the spark that the Randallstown football team needed.

Junior cornerback Jamari McCollough returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown, and the defensive unit stopped Bel Air's last-gasp drive to lift the No. 7 Rams to an 18-15 win in the Class 3A North region final at CCBC-Catonsville last night.

The victory gave Randallstown its fourth region championship and third state semifinal appearance in the past six years.

The Rams (10-2) will meet either Lackey or Westlake - the South region champion - next weekend.

The Bobcats fell to 7-4.

Bel Air junior quarterback Andrew Berry scored two rushing touchdowns, but the Bobcats could not convert on fourth-and-10 from the Rams' 42-yard line with less than a minute remaining.

"They saved us," Randallstown coach Albert Howard said of his defense. "We challenged the kids to step up and get it done. They just had to contain them."

After surrendering 103 yards of total offense and a touchdown in the first half, the Rams clamped down, allowing the Bobcats to gain 71 yards the rest of the game - including just 2 in the third quarter.

Randallstown sacked Berry five times - all in the second half - and limited the 1,400-yard passer to 83 yards on 8-for-26 passing.

McCollough ignited the Rams in the first quarter when he stepped in front of Berry's pass at the 38-yard line and raced down the left sideline into the end zone to give his team a 6-0 lead with 16 seconds left in the period.

"I basically knew their patterns," said McCollough, who has returned three of six interceptions for touchdowns. "I saw the receiver hook, and I came up and picked it."

But Bel Air stormed back on the ensuing possession, capping a nine-play, 56-yard drive with a Berry 10-yard keeper with 8:48 left in the second quarter.

On the Bobcats' first possession of the third quarter, McCollough intercepted another Berry pass, falling at Bel Air's 43-yard line.

Three plays later, junior quarterback Marcus McLain connected with McCollough on a go route for a 39-yard touchdown and a 12-7 lead with 5:26 left in the third.

Randallstown added six more points when senior running back Marcus Hannon (13 carries, 54 yards) scored on a five-yard touchdown run to complete an 11-play, 57-yard march.

But a muffed punt gave the Bobcats excellent field position at the Rams' 17, and Berry (10 carries, 52 yards) needed just four plays to score on a 2-yard sneak and add a two-point conversion on a keeper with 1:30 left in the game.

Bel Air recovered an onside kick, but the drive stalled at Randallstown's 42.

"They adjusted at halftime," Bobcats coach Bruce Riley said of the Rams' defense. "I think our offense did a nice job of taking what they could from them, but Randallstown made a couple of nice plays."

Bel Air 0 7 0 8 - 15

Randallstown 6 0 6 6 - 18

R-McCollough 38 INT return (pass failed) BA-An.Berry 10 run (Jackson kick) R-McCollough 39 pass from McLain (pass failed) R-Hannon 5 run (run failed) BA-An. Berry 2 run (An. Berry run)

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