Mariners run over Havre de Grace

Cash rushes for 125 yards to lift Joppatowne, 24-7

Harford co-champ held in check

After 0-2 start, visitors reach state semifinals

Class 1A North football

November 22, 2003|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Joppatowne did everything Havre de Grace expected it would last night in the Class 1A North final.

But host Havre de Grace didn't have an answer for any of it.

Relying on senior tailback Brent Cash and a relentless ground game, the Mariners dominated the line of scrimmage on both ends to upset No. 10 and Harford County rival Havre de Grace, 24-7, last night at James M. Harris Memorial Field.

The Mariners (6-5) advanced to next weekend's 1A state semifinal against an opponent to be determined. Havre de Grace, the Harford County co-champ and the top seed in the region, saw its season end at 9-2.

"It was just a great effort," said Joppatowne coach Greg Komondor, whose team lost to the Warriors, 34-14, in October and barely squeaked into the playoffs with a 4-5 record. "It was one of the best things I've seen coaching here. Everyone did exactly what we asked them to do."

In its power-I formation with Cash rushing almost exclusively up the middle behind backs Jeremy Navarre and Joseph Ivory and a dominating offensive line, Joppatowne chewed up 265 yards on the ground.

Cash took 33 carries for 125 yards and two 1-yard touchdowns. The second touchdown - with just 6:33 left to play - gave the Mariners a 24-7 advantage and all but sealed matters.

Ivory, a junior, spent much of the night blocking for Cash, but still had 72 yards on nine carries. Quarterback Anthony Preston had 17 carries for 71 yards.

"This game, our line had so much heart," said Cash, who came into the game with 1,410 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. "I knew [Havre de Grace] was out to kill me but my lead blocking just stepped it up."

Said Warriors coach Johnny Brooks: "We knew exactly what was coming, but we just didn't have it in us to stop it."

The Mariners' defense was pretty dominating as well. It pressured Havre de Grace senior quarterback Shane West into an 8-for-24 passing performance for just 76 yards. West was just 3-for-13 in the second half for 9 yards.

Havre de Grace standout tailback Mike Perez rushed 13 times for 20 yards. On one of those carries, Perez was brought down by Navarre for a 22-yard loss and a safety, giving Joppatowne a 2-0 first-quarter lead.

The Warriors took their only lead at the 3:24 mark of the first quarter when West hit Justin Donaldson for a 33-yard touchdown, making it 7-2.

But touchdowns by Cash and Preston gave the Mariners a 17-7 halftime lead.

Havre de Grace's only chance in the second half came when Dante Mason returned a punt 73 yards to the Mariners' 8 late in the third quarter. But Perez fumbled and Cash recovered. That was essentially it for Havre de Grace.

Joppatowne will play in its second state semifinal in three seasons, but this one was largely unexpected. The Mariners returned just two starters and lost their first two games.

"We knew the beginning of the season would be rough," said Navarre. "But everybody has come together and we knew when that happened, we'd be tough to beat. We just wanted this more tonight."

Added Komondor: "Never did I expect this. We were 0-2, but now we're here."

Joppatowne 2 15 0 7 - 24

Havre de Grace 7 0 0 0 - 7

J-Navarre tackled Perez for safety HG-Donaldson 33 pass from West (West kick) J-Cash 1 run (Ivory run) J-Preston 2 run (Preston kick) J-Cash 1 run (Preston kick)

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