Westminster warms to task

No. 2 Owls open it up with run, close door to City College in frigid 3A semifinal, 35-6

Football

High Schools

December 03, 2005|By RICH SCHERR | RICH SCHERR,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Both Westminster and visiting City College spent much of last night's Class 3A state football semifinal trying to simply hold onto the ball in the numbing cold.

In the end, however, it was No. 9 City's inability to get a grip on running back Ryan Finch that made the difference as the senior ran for 206 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead the No. 2 Owls to a 35-6 win.

"They were bringing the pressure, so we made a couple of adjustments at halftime," said Westminster coach Brad Wilson. "We said, `Hey, Ryan, we're going to give you the ball.' He said, `Well, I want it. Give it to me.' I'm not stupid. ... I'll give it to him."

Trailing 6-0, Westminster (12-1) capitalized on four turnovers to score 35 straight points as it gained its first state final since 1976. The Owls will face the winner of today's game between River Hill and Gwynn Park at M&T Bank Stadium next Saturday.

To get there, the Owls had to overcome the brutal cold and wind that played havoc with their passing game, especially early in the game. Quarterback Kevin Clancy, in the shotgun formation, battled several high snaps that led to five fumbles.

All told, there were 11 fumbles in the game.

After the rough start, however, Clancy - who entered the game with a Carroll County-record 3,044 yards passing and 35 touchdowns this season - settled down, giving his team the lead by rolling out to escape pressure and finding Dan Cremins for a touchdown with 8:58 left in the second quarter.

He then went on to throw a pair of touchdown passes to Ryan Payne, including one on which he first had to recover a snap that sailed over his head, and finished 12-for-27 for 142 yards and three touchdowns.

"We started running, and that opened up some passes for us, also," said Wilson.

It was Finch who time and again took handoffs on draws deep in the backfield and burst through seams for clumps of yardage.

"They were covering our receivers really well, so we just went to the run game and our line executed very well," said Finch, who had 419 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in the Owls' win over Seneca Valley in the regional final.

Each team had problems holding onto the ball, but it was City (11-2) that had the best chance to capitalize early.

On Westminster's first possession, a shotgun snap sailed over Clancy's head deep in Owls territory, and the Knights recovered at the 21. On a fourth-and-two from the 13, however, freshman quarterback Ellis Foster came up short and Westminster took over on downs.

Later in the quarter, after the Owls recovered a muffed punt, Finch fumbled a handoff and City recovered at its 19. Moments later, the Knights took a 6-0 lead when Foster hit Sheldon Bell on a short crossing route and the 6-foot-4 senior took it 50 yards for the score.

City 6 0 0 0 - 6

Westminster 0 21 14 0 - 35

C-Bell 50 pass from Foster (pass failed) W-Cremins 39 pass from Clancy (Hajnos kick) W-Payne 10 pass from Clancy (Hajnos kick) W-Finch 2 run (Hajnos kick) W-Payne 14 pass from Clancy (Hajnos kick) W-Finch 3 run (Hajnos kick)

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