Missed opportunities proved costly for the Eastern Tech football team, which came up short in its bid to repeat as Class 2A state champions in a 20-6 loss at Middletown on Friday night in Frederick County.
Middletown (12-1) will play for its first state football title in when it takes on McDonough (Charles County) – a 55-17 winner over Queen Anne’s – in next Saturday’s 2A finals at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
As for Eastern Tech (11-2), it had its 10-game winning streak snapped and failed to reach the state finals for the first time in four seasons.
“We had opportunities to put points on the board and we just didn’t do it,” said Eastern Tech coach Mark Mesaros. “That’s on us. It’s just like anything in life – you’ve got to take responsibility for the things that happen.
Senior running back Sam Michaels scored on touchdown runs of 25 and 16 yards in the fourth quarter to lead Middletown, which went into halftime in a scoreless tie with Eastern Tech.
Those scores came after Middletown senior wide receiver/defensive back Chris Pirrone gave the Knights all of the offense they would need as he took the opening kickoff in the second half 75 yards for a touchdown.
“I saw he was kicking it to me, and I said, `Give me the ball. I’m going to make a play,’ Pirrone said. “I just ran it. I wasn’t getting taken down. I wanted that touchdown.”
That touchdown only frustrated Eastern Tech even more as the Mavericks failed to put points on the board despite numerous trips into the red zone in the first half.
This included a 67-yard, 17-play drive that took 8:04 off the clock in the first quarter, but ended with the Mavericks turning the ball over on downs at the Middletown five.
On Eastern Tech’s next offensive possession, the Mavericks advanced to the Knights 16 but again came up short when quarterback Brad Hager had a likely touchdown pass to wide receiver Devonn White deflected by Middletown sophomore defensive back Zach Welch in the end zone.
“That was huge to play against the defending champion, a storied program, and to be able to hold them like that,” Middletown coach Kevin Lynott said. “That gave us confidence to stay in the game.”
Another key play came late in the fourth quarter when Middletown quarterback Michael Pritts connected on a 23-yard pass to junior wideout Ben Lewis, on a third-and-9 at their own 2. That play extended the Knights’ drive at a time when they lead just 7-0.
Eastern Tech scored its lone touchdown with four seconds remaining on a one-yard run by Hager.
Dissapointed in defeat, Hager was still able to look at the big picture in reflecting on his successful high school career.
“These were the greatest four years of my life,” Hager said. “The best friends I made came from this team.”
|Middletown 20, Eastern Tech 6|
|MID-Pirrone 75 kickoff return (Neubauer kick)|
|MID-Michaels 25 run (kick failed)|
|MID-Michaels 16 run (Neubauer kick)|
|ET-Hager 1 run (pass failed)|