Joppatowne quarterback Dominic Harper fumbled the snap when the Mariners went for it on fourth down late in the third quarter, but the senior kept his poise and made perhaps the Mariners' biggest play of the season.
Harper scooped up the ball and completed a pass to Ernest Hawkins for a tie-breaking 28-yard touchdown pass. No. 5 Joppatowne then held on for a 22-14 victory over visiting Havre de Grace in the Class 1A East regional final Friday night.
"Great players make great plays," Joppatowne coach Bill Waibel said.
Joppatowne (12-0) will host Allegany in the state semifinals Friday night, the third straight year the Mariners have made the final four in their classification.
Harper carried the usually potent offense on a night when it struggled. Havre de Grace (7-5) took first-half leads of 8-0 and 14-8 on a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by Maurice Clemons. But Harper ran for a 1-yard touchdown and threw a 63-yard scoring pass to Tony Taylor in the second quarter that tied the game at 14.
Harper's biggest play came when Waibel went for it on fourth-and-7 from Havre de Grace 28 with 3:30 left in the third quarter. Harper quickly picked up his bobbled snap and found Hawkins on the right sideline for the touchdown and a 20-14 lead.
"Nobody was around me, so I just kept going with the play," Harper said. "I wasn't going to let us lose."
Harper rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown and completed three of five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. He accounted for 173 of the team's 241 yards of total offense.
After Joppatowne fell behind 14-8, the Mariners' defense allowed just 14 yards total offense in the final 2 1/2 quarters. Linebacker Epe Henriques (seven tackles, one sack) and defensive tackle David Miller (two sacks) led the way. H 8 6 0 0 -14J 0 14 6 2 - 22
H-Clemons 1 run (Johnson pass from Clemons)
J-Harper 1 run (Harper run)
H-Clemons 1 run (run failed)
J-Taylor 63 pass from Harper (run failed)
J-Hawkins 28 pass from Harper (pass failed)
J-Safety, fumble recovered in end zone