Elements take air out of ball but give Aberdeen lift, 6-0

Henderson's TD on sneak ends it for South Carroll

Class 2A state football

High Schools

November 29, 2003|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

The aerial show that was predicted in yesterday's Class 2A state semifinal between Aberdeen and South Carroll barely got off the ground.

A driving rainstorm and a field that resembled a swamp wreaked havoc on both teams' passing games, but that was just fine for Aberdeen, which turned to the advantage it already had on the ground.

The Eagles' senior quarterback, Erin Henderson, scored the game's only touchdown on a one-yard sneak with 7:26 left in the fourth quarter as the ninth-ranked Eagles ground out a 6-0 victory over No. 4 and host South Carroll on a cold and wet night in Winfield.

Aberdeen (11-1), Class 2A's third seed, will play Prince George's County's Potomac next Saturday, looking for its first state title in program history. West regional champ South Carroll's season ended at 11-2.

"At the beginning of the season, this is exactly what we talked about," said Henderson, who was just 1 for 7 passing for seven yards but ran 26 times for 80 yards. "We wanted to play for a state championship, and now we get that opportunity. This just feels really good."

Henderson's plunge from the 1, which capped a 13-play drive that started at the Eagles' 26, helped erase the memories of three Eagles fumbles inside the Cavaliers' 35.

Aberdeen fumbled seven times - most because of botched handoffs - but recovered four of them.

"I'm still kind of frustrated," said Henderson, whose right ankle was injured on the Eagles' last drive, although he said it was not as bad as it looked. "We knew we could move the ball on them, but we were just doing silly things."

Much of the pregame hype centered on the Maryland-bound Henderson's duel with Cavaliers quarterback T.J. Swanson, who came into the game with 2,290 passing yards and 28 touchdowns.

But it was the Eagles' defense that spoke loudest. Swanson was 13 for 27 for 157 yards but was sacked three times and intercepted twice. On his last opportunity, Swanson had his pass deflected by Shawn Lewis as time elapsed.

The Cavaliers, dealt a blow when tailback Brad Mayr went down in the second quarter with an ankle injury, had driven to their 45.

"Coach told us to keep pressuring [Swanson] and we'd keep him bottled up, said Aberdeen senior defensive tackle Manu Cooper."

Swanson was intercepted by Ryan McVey with two minutes to play and by Devron Galloway on the Eagles' five-yard line on South Carroll's best scoring chance of the second half.

"It was just a little miscommunication," said Swanson, who hit Tyler Kraus on a 49-yard reception to put the Cavaliers in Aberdeen territory. "He took the inside route and I was expecting him to go outside.

There were no mistakes on Aberdeen's scoring drive as the Eagles, who moved the ball most of the night before fumbling, ran on 11 of their 13 plays.

"It's a tremendous disappointment," said Cavaliers coach Gene Brown.

Aberdeen's celebration included many of its players sliding into the puddles of mud on the field.

"No matter what went wrong, they just kept working and working," said Aberdeen coach Joe Harbert. "It's easy to coach when you have players like that."

Aberdeen 0 0 0 6 - 6

South Carroll 0 0 0 0 - 0

A-Henderson 1 run (kick failed)

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