Redd, River Hill rally past Eastern Tech for first title

Mavericks' final play comes up just short after Davis reception

No. 1 River Hill 14 No. 6 Eastern Tech 7

Football state final Class 2A

December 09, 2007|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Sun reporter

It wasn't easy, but top-ranked River Hill won its first state football championship, scoring two second-half touchdowns and keeping Eastern Tech out of the end zone on the final play to defeat the sixth-ranked Mavericks, 14-7, yesterday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Junior Malek Redd scored both River Hill touchdowns. He caught a 68-yard pass from quarterback Luke Hostetler in the third quarter to tie the game. Redd then scored the game-winner on a 6-yard burst with 4:02 remaining.

"We didn't expect them to come out like that," Redd said. "We got together [early on] and said we're going to have to work hard to stop them and make sure we get the win. We kind of underestimated them."

The Hawks (14-0) saw their string of five consecutive shutouts ended by determined and talented Eastern Tech (13-1) and missed a chance to set a state single-season record for shutouts at 12. However, they got what they wanted most: the state championship.

"Credit to Eastern Tech, by far the best team we've played this year," said River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen, whose team's fans had caps and T-shirts printed with state champs on them before the game.

"Nobody has been able to push us around like that. Winning like we did and not by a blowout might mean a little more when we look back on this, because we were tested for the first time."

Neither team had won a state championship before yesterday. Each had been to a final once before - River Hill last year in 3A and Eastern Tech in 1998.

The game was close mainly because of the Mavericks' hard-hitting defense, led by linebacker Bryan Watson, lineman Devin Hardy and end Ryan Scholthauer, who was in on numerous tackles and had a fumble recovery that gave his team one final chance with 2:17 left.

The Mavericks drove inside the Hawks' 10-yard line, and their final play came up short with quarterback Travis Crane scrambling all over the field before passing to Derryck Davis inside the 5-yard line. Davis fumbled as he tried to lateral the ball as the game ended. River Hill's Alex Turner wrapped up Davis on the play to prevent the Mavericks from scoring.

"I'm very proud of our kids, especially when nobody gave us a snowball's chance," Eastern Tech coach Marc Mesaros said. "I thought we could play with them. The media attention all this week has been interesting. I knew we were a good team, and I wondered sometimes if anybody thought we were any good at all."

Eastern Tech's defense held the Hawks to a season-low 53 rushing yards in the first half. The Hawks' leading running back, Michael Campanaro, gained just 9 yards on six attempts.

The Mavericks drove 87 yards in 14 plays on their first possession, with Crane scoring on an 8-yard run. David Spalt kicked the extra point to make it 7-0 with 3:24 left in the first quarter. It marked the first time River Hill had trailed in a game this season. The Hawks gave up only 21 points in 14 games.

The Mavericks' Darian Conners gained 56 yards on 14 attempts in the first half, but he was held to 11 yards on six carries in the second half.

Campanaro finished with 62 rushing yards on 16 carries.

The Hawks had 170 yards of total offense in the second half, 84 rushing and 86 passing, while limiting the Mavericks to 27 yards rushing and 58 passing.

Eastern Tech 7 0 0 0 - 7

River Hill 0 0 7 7 - 14

ET--Crane 8 run (Spalt kick)

RH-Redd 68 pass from Hostetler (Griffin-Benitez kick)

RH--Redd 6 run (Griffin-Benitez kick)

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