No. 6 Broadneck continued its recent run of dramatic, come-from-behind victories when Domenick Johnson’s 56-yard interception return near the close of the fourth quarter cemented a stunning, 39-28, victory over No. 5 Arundel in Friday evening’s Class 4A Regional final, denying the Wildcats a third trip in four years to the state semiFinals.
“Our kids didn’t give up and we got a couple of breaks that we capitalized on,” said Broadneck Head Coach Jeff Herick. “Domenick’s is a three-year varsity starter, he’s been in the program for four years, he’s a great kid and he played a great game.”
Trailing 21-3 with four minutes and twenty six seconds left in the first half, after Joseph Blackwell’s six yard touchdown scamper around the left end seemed to put the Wildcats (10-2) comfortably in the driver’s seat, the Bruins (10-2) never panicked or abandoned their ground control running attack.
Broadneck answered Blackwell’s touchdown with a six-play, 67-yard drive. Pounding the ball with quarterback James Mullis and running back Grant Harris, the Bruins caught Arundel off balance with a well designed and executed screen pass that receiver Jaime Ott snagged and raced forty yards into the end zone.
Broadneck closed out the half by snuffing out another Wildcat scoring threat when Brian Hanratty intercepted Arundel quarterback Nick Rosati’s pass in his own end zone.
“At halftime, we said that we were going to stick to our original game plan, which was running the ball and keeping it out of Arundel’s hands because their offense is so explosive,” said Herrick. “And our kids just played with a lot of heart.”
Trailing 28-17 as they took possession of the ball to begin the fourth quarter, Broadneck went for a fake punt on fourth and eight from the Wildcats 45 yard line. But Ryan Terribile was called for off sides and the Bruins were forced to punt on the ensuing fourth and thirteen.
Terribile more than made up for his earlier mistake by recovering the punt, which was muffed by the Wildcats punt returner, swinging the momentum in Broadneck’s favor. Bullis dove in from the one yard line five plays later, then proceeded to complete a pass for the two-point conversion, pulling the Bruins within three points.
After forcing Arundel’s high powered, no huddle offense to go three and out, Broadneck grabbed its first lead of the game, 31-28, when Bullis plunged into the end zone from three yards out with three minutes and thirty one seconds left in the game.
With the raucous home crowd ringing cow bells and stomping in the stands, Rosati, who threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns, completed two quick-strike passes and looked poised to conjure up his own heroics. But on first and ten from the Bruins 42 yard line, his pass was tipped into the hands of senior Domenick Johnson.
“I saw [Arundel’s] Joseph Blackwell out of the corner of my eye and I kept thinking, ‘Just beat Joe, and you’ve got it,’” said Johnson. “I saw my teammates throw a couple of blocks and the rest was just running.”
Johnson proceeded to silence the home crowd with each step he took during his 56-yard touchdown return that sealed Broadneck’s first victory over Arundel since 2006, when the Bruins advanced to the state semifinals.
“At halftime, our coaches just reinforced that we needed to focus and finish,” said Johnson. “At the beginning of the game, we weren’t finishing plays off, and they were getting extra yards after the catch. The coaches just told us, ‘If they catch it, wrap them up’, and that’s what we began to do.”
“There are 36 seniors on this team, and none of us want to go home,” said Bullis, who threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 84 yards and two more scores. “These last two weeks, we’ve won because of our will. I had some good plays, but that’s not just me, that’s coming off of everybody else too. Guys made some great catches, all I had to do was throw the ball and they did the rest.”
Hanratty intercepted Rosati for his second pick of the day on Arundel’s final drive as the clock ran under two minutes.
Despite his prolific passing numbers, the Bruins defense, in addition to the three interceptions, harassed Rosati with four sacks, two by Nick Ochoa and one apiece for Va’a Niumatalolo and Brett Strader.
Grant Harris also rushed for 125 yards for the Bruins.
Broadneck, 10-2, avenged its early season, 10-6 loss to Arundel and now advances to play either Wise or Eleanor Roosevelt next weekend in the 4A State Semifinals.
“Our kids played with a lot of heart, that was the key to the turnaround, along with luck,” said Herrick. “You’ve got to be lucky and believe in what you’re doing. We’ve done that the last two games and I don’t know how much longer it’s going to go, but I like what I see. All you need is the chance, and we’ve got a chance.”
|No. 6 Broadneck 39, No. 5 Arundel 28|
|A-Washington 28 pass from Rosati (Centrone kick)|
|B-Green 36 FG|
|A-Blackwell 1 run (Centrone kick)|
|A-Blackwell 1 run (Centrone kick)|
|B-Ott 40 pass from Mullis (Greene kick)|
|B-Byes 59 pass from Mullis (Greene kick)|
|A-Centrone 17 pass from Rosati (Centrone kick)|
|B-Mullis 1 run (Soloman pass from Mullis)|
|B-Mullis 3 run (Greene kick)|
|B-Johnson 56 interception return (Greene kick)|