Atholton's Kenny Thomas carries the ball Friday night… (Jen Rynda, Patuxent Publishing )
Anyone who heard that Atholton completed only one pass and thatHammond's star running back Devon Paye rushed for more than 200 yards Friday night might have assumed that the host Golden Bears ran away with a victory.
After all, the game was billed by some as Atholton's pass-heavy offense against Hammond's running attack.
But, as it turns out, the Raiders can run the ball as effectively as they can throw it.
Kenny Thomas and quarterback Brian McMahon each rushed for two touchdowns, and McMahon's lone completion was a 49-yard touchdown strike to Dequan Ellison, powering No. 6 Atholton to a 40-21 victory over No. 15 Hammond in a Howard County league game.
"We came into the game knowing that our running game might be a little bit underestimated," said Thomas, the Raiders' leading rusher. "We have a balanced offense. Our running game has been flying under the radar for a while, and today was my chance to prove myself."
It was also a chance for Atholton's offensive line to prove its value to the 6-1 Raiders.
"Our offensive line has been excellent, and that group has been carrying us," Atholton coach Kyle Schmitt said. "That's the heart and soul of any team."
Hammond (5-2) cut Atholton's lead, which was 20-7 at halftime, to six points (27-21) with six minutes left in the game after a 34-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Tyler Martin to Akili Moore.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Atholton's Jorry Matherson collected the ball inside his own 20 and sprinted up the visitors' sideline for a touchdown.
"That put a knife in us, that killed us," Hammond coach Dan Makosy said. "But I like the fact that they didn't quit. We'll change things. We'll hopefully get to play them one more time [in the Class 3A East playoffs], so we'll be ready for them."
The Raiders' victory pulls them into a tie for first place in the county standings with Glenelg, which lost to Reservoir, 19-13, in overtime Friday night. The Raiders had to forfeit their opening-week game against Glenelg becaue of an offseason practice violation.
No. 6 Atholton 40, No. 15 Hammond 21
A (6-1) 7 13 7 13 - 40
Ha (5-2) 0 6 8 7 - 21
A: McMahon 14 run (Haas kick), 2:02.
A: Thomas 2 run (Haas kick), 8:44.
A: Ellison 49 pass from McMahon (kick failed), :24.
Ha: Paye 80 run (pass failed), :09.
A: Thomas 14 run (Haas kick), 10:05.
Ha: Martin 7 run (Holly pass from Martin), 8:34.
Ha: Moore 34 pass from Martin (24 kick), 6:09.
A: Matherson 82 kick return (pass failed), 5:52.
A: McMahon 5 run (Haas kick), 1:37.