Key starts strong, then holds on late

Francis Scott Key 49 Westminster 42

September 23, 2006|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Francis Scott Key quarterback Chris Kolb had one thought as his team went into halftime last night with a four-touchdown lead over No. 12 Westminster.

"We just had to keep our focus," Kolb said.

The host Eagles did ... but just barely.

After stunning its Carroll County rival by taking a 28-point lead, Key managed to stave off a furious second-half rally by the Owls, getting a late interception by linebacker Brad Martz and running out the game's final 6:23 in a 49-42 upset win.

"We had to keep our hearts in the game and keep driving," said Kolb (8-for-14, 203 yards), who threw for one touchdown and scored two others, including a 54-yard punt return that staked Francis Scott Key (2-1) to a 35-7 lead.

"I think when we scored that one, that may be as high as I've been off the ground unassisted," Eagles first-year coach Bill Hyson said.

The second half, however, was quite a different story.

The Owls (2-1), whose lines were manhandled in the first half, quickly changed the momentum with two touchdown passes from Nick Brunner to Ryan Miller in the third quarter.

"I gave them a little talking to," said Westminster coach Brad Wilson, whose team had allowed just seven points in its first two games. "I didn't think we showed up mentally in the first half. We've been preaching it - you've got to come ready to play. It was like two different teams."

After allowing 326 yards in the first half, the Owls' defense allowed 84 in the second half. Both sides, however, did plenty of damage on special teams. At one point in the third quarter, they combined to score three touchdowns in 27 seconds, including consecutive kickoff returns for touchdowns by Westminster's Danny Mruk (75 yards) and Key's Martz (93 yards).

Martz, who along with teammate Tyler Bridges scored two touchdowns, also atoned for a critical fumble early in the fourth quarter by intercepting Brunner to halt the potential tying drive with just over six minutes left.

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