Despite a second round loss to Fairmont Heights, Loch Raven proves it belonged in state 1A playoffs; Citizen tosses a pair of TD passes


by Nelson Coffin

It’s always disappointing to lose a football game, especially in the playoffs.

For Loch Raven, though, there should have been some solace in a 27-13 setback to Fairmount Heights in a 1A South Region second round battle, Friday night in Towson, because the Raiders hadn’t even qualified for post-season plays since 2005.

Moreover, the top seeds walloped Largo, 32-14, last week in the first round, giving the program its second-ever win in postseason play while giving Chris Armstrong’s team some momentum heading into the second round.

And after spotting the Hornets a 7-0 advantage on a 12-yard scoop-and-score by senior linebacker Jordan Lewis on a botched punt attempt in the game’s opening minutes, the Raiders (8-3) held their own against a tough opponent.

Loch Raven answered that score with one of its own when senior quarterback Kevaughn Citizen lofted a perfect spiral to junior wideout Branden Taylor on a 10-yard pass to the corner of the end zone to complete an eight-play, 68-yard drive with just over six minutes left in the opening period for a short-lived 7-6 lead after sophomore Even Welsh’s conversion kick.

Just 18 seconds later, Fairmount Heights senior running back Jamal Lone broke several tackles before he outraced the Raider secondary into the end zone on a 68-yard scamper to put the Hornets back on top, 14-7.

They would never trail again and, in fact, built a 20-7 cushion in the third quarter on a run by junior Victor Paz with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Loch Raven capitalized on a fumble recovery by senior defensive end Gregory Coleman to open the final frame when Citizen and Taylor connected on a 52-yard TD play to cut the deficit to 20-13.

It was Citizen’s 18th touchdown pass of the season and Taylor’s eighth TD grab. Citizen also scored five times on the ground this fall.

Both defenses buckled down after that, with the Raiders blunting Hornet drives on sacks by Coleman, senior defensive back Jeffrey Santos and junior defensive back Jordan Mackey.

Fairmount Heights (7-3) held just as firm, with Loch Raven’s last gasp coming on a desperation heave by Citizen from his own 18-yard line looking for Taylor that fell incomplete.

On the next play, Fairmount Heights sophomore Robert Bell streaked into the end zone for the game’s final score with just one minute, 18 seconds left in regulation.

That the Raiders were able to sustain a strong defensive effort for most of the second half was satisfying, even if it didn’t yield the result the home team was seeking.

“We were just going back to what we did in practice,” Loch Raven senior linebacker Jordan Prochazka said. “It was everyone doing their job — assignment football. We executed well. It started last January in the weight room. We were dedicated to Loch Raven football.”

Armstrong credited the Hornets for holding Raiders’ leading rusher Far’d Myles mostly in check during the contest.

“They did a great job on him,” he said. “We lost the battle of physicality, and we battled our emotions a little bit. But I told the boys to hold their heads up and be proud of what they did this year.”

Pictured above: Loch Raven coach Chris Armstrong congratulates his disappointed Raiders after their second round loss in the 2A playoffs, capping an outstanding season that included the program’s first post-season appearance since 2005.

CLASS 1A SOUTH REGION FOOTBALL SECOND ROUND
FAIRMOUNT HEIGHTS 27, LOCH RAVEN 13

FAIRMOUNT HEIGHTS 14 0 6 7 — 27
LOCH RAVEN 7 0 O 6 — 13

1ST QTR
FH – Jordon Lewis 12 fumble return (kick failed)
LR – Branden Taylor 10 pass from Kevaughn Citizen (Even Welsh kick)
FH – Jamal Lone 68 run (Lone run)

3RD QTR
FH – Victor Paz 20 run (run failed)

4TH QTR
LR – Taylor 52 pass from Citizen (kick failed)
FH – Robert Bell 30 run (Jonothan Lamb kick)