Things weren’t looking up for the North Harford Hawks in the early moments of Friday night’s regional playoff opener against Catonsville.  Holding the Comets to a three-and-out was a nice start, but everything after that was a near disaster.

First, the Hawks’ 45-yard drive stalls in the redzone on a failed fourth and short.  Then, Comet’s junior Jerome Williams caps-off a six-play drive with a run of 24 yards to put his team up 6-0 and five minutes to play in the first half.  Thought the blocked extra point would come in handy.

Two three-and-outs later, North Harford turns the ball over on a fumble to Catonsville senior Rodney McCoy.  So where does the night go right for the Hawks?  Thank goodness for a second half.

“The first half we had a couple opportunities to score and we didn’t get the ball in the endzone.  Catonsville went and put one on us in five or six plays,” North Harford Head Coach Ken Brinkman said.    “We went in at halftime and made some adjustments.  

“Our defense played outstanding and coach [Tim] Hughes put us in great position as our defensive coordinator, and offensively our guys rallied around, knew what we had to do, slowed things down and we put two scores on the board.”

Opening the second half by mobbing the Comets on a fourth-and-two, the Hawk defense gave the senior quarterback Cody Turner  possession near midfield and North Harford was further helped by a Catonsville personal foul penalty in its 58-yard drive for a score.

KenleyAfter Turner broke the plane on an 11-yard option left, senior kicker Tyler Lenane tacked on the extra point to put the Hawks ahead, 7-6.

“Coach obviously set us up for success,” said senior running back Ben Kenley, whose running was a huge contribution in the second half.  “The offensive line blocked great, and you have to give credit to them.”

But before Kenley would be able to make his dent in the Comet defense, it was North Harford’s resistance that would need to come in the clutch again.

Led by senior Jake Harris and Sean Cannon, the Hawks held the Comets to 51 rushing yards in the second half, stopping Catonsville twice at midfield and bending but not breaking when they reached North Harford’s 31-yard-line.

Moving down the field on the backs of senior Tyler Weedon and Williams, the Comets were making moves at retaking the lead before Turner and junior defensive back Nick Warren batted away a deep fourth-and-seven pass to cause a turnover on downs and place the ball back in North Harford’s hands with four minutes to play.

harris“It was tough and they were physical,” Harris said on the defensive stand.  “In the end, it was just 11 guys on the football.”

The Hawks, running the ball to eat the lock but still maintain possession, soon found themselves inside the Catonsville 30-yard-line, and with just more than a minute remaining, the workhorse Kenley busted into the endzone for the extra padding on the board.

Brinkman decided to go for two points following a Catonsville foul on the extra point, and sent senior Brandon Bayer into the endzone to lead by 9, 15-6, putting the Comets out for the count.

“It’s going to be hard to talk the kids right now,” Catonsville Rich Hambor said after the game.  “They are a little down, but we’ll process it and we’ll get through it.”

North Harford lives to fight another day, and will do battle with the Franklin Indians next Friday on the Hawks’ home turf.

“We are just going to go back and watch film and see what adjustments we have to make,” Brinkman said.  “We have seen Franklin once on film against Bel Air, and that was 11 weeks ago.  

“We know they have good athletes and we will try to match-up and make the right adjustments offensively and defensively, and hopefully be able to pull this thing out next week.”

North Harford 15, Catonsville 6
North Harford
1st Q
2nd Q
C-Williams 24 run (kick blocked) – 5:16
3rd Q
NH-Turnder 11 run (Lenane kick) – 3:20
4th Q
NH-Kenley 29 run (Bayer 1 run) – 1:17