In the past two weeks, Hammond’s football team has found a way to pull out last minute victories.

The Bears beat Reservoir 28-27 on Oct. 30th and defeated Howard, 17-12, to clinch a share of the Howard County title.

On Friday night, Hammond did it again, this time in a Class 2A South Regional playoff game against visiting Southern-Anne Arundel with a final second score to claim a 26-21 comeback victory.

As the last 10 seconds ticked off the clock and with his Golden Bears facing a third-and-goal from the one-yard line, junior quarterback Josh Whaley noticed the Bulldogs shaded their defense to left.  Knowing the play-call was a run to that side, Whaley audibled and changed it to a run to the right.

With one second remaining, Whaley snapped the ball, tossed it to sophomore running back Dionte Jones, who dove for the end zone, scoring as time expired.

“We had the play to the left called but I noticed they shifted everybody down and I had one guy inside of my tight end, which I knew he would block the guy down “ Whaley said.  “So I decided to call the cut back.  I had no idea how much time we had on the clock so luckily we got that one.”

“That was one of the biggest plays that I have ever been a part of in my life,” said Jones.  “Winning a playoff game, I don’t even really know what to say…We were going to run the other way but my quarterback switched the play and once he switched it, I knew that we could go in.”

He added: “The line just pushed and pushed and I saw the goal line so something told me just to dive.”

Hammond coach Dan Makosy and his staff had been yelling to Whaley to get the ball snapped earlier in the play clock in hopes of calling a timeout, giving the Bears another shot to score if they were stopped.

“We had three running plays called in a row, they over-shifted to it and [Whaley] tried to run the play back to the other side,” said Makosy.  “We were going to kick the field goal on fourth down.”

Junior running back Devon Paye rushed for 209 yards on 25 carries and scored twice, while Jones ran for 68 and two scores for the Bears (10-1), who were making their first playoff appearance in 25 years.

Makosy credited his offensive line for the running backs’ success not just tonight but all year.  That line consists of Payton Rose, Rocco Pianpiano, Anton Gordon, Baldwin Asala and Kyle “Simba” Jackson.

Senior running back Davonte Burke had a big game for Southern (8-3), rushing for 122 yards and a score and he caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Hunter Riggs (4-for-6 passing, 113 yards).

Burke and Riggs got the scoring started on the first drive of the game, capping a nine-play drive with a 34-yard hook up, putting the visitors up 7-0 early.

“I knew that we had to get back in the game early because making the playoffs is big accomplishment for our program and nobody wants it to go down the drain in the first week,” said Paye, who around, threw and sometimes over the Southern defense.  “I ran hard, I did not want to go down; I wanted to stay up as long as I possibly could to get that extra yard.”

Hammond answered with Paye on an eight-yard score to tie the game at 7-7 but Burke responded a minute later, this time with a 62-yard reception for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 13-7 halftime advantage.

The teams traded third quarter scores, a 31-yard touchdown run by Paye followed by a 54-yard romp for Burke, closing the quarter with Southern ahead 21-14.

But the fourth quarter, as it has all season, belonged to Hammond.

Jones scored on a six-yard strike but a bad snap caused holder Malachi Drummer to attempt a shovel pass to Whaley that was snuffed out by the Bulldogs, who hung on to a 21-20 lead with 10:45 to go in the game.

On its next possession, Southern moved the ball to Hammond’s 21-yard line before they stalled and faced a fourth-and-three.  Burke was stopped by a gang of Golden Bears, turning the ball back over to Hammond with 5:35 left.

The Bears found themselves on the Bulldog 26-yard line with 55 seconds remaining when Whaley threw a pass in senior Matt Stephenson’s direction.  Southern’s Cortez Brown tipped the ball up in the air but Stephenson somehow caught the rebound to put Hammond at the five-yard line.

“That was a wild play,” Stephenson said.  “I thought he was about to intercept it but then I just saw the ball coming towards me so Isouthern player caught it. Once I caught it, they were trying to take the ball away but I wasn’t going to let them.”

Two plays later, Whaley, who had a 101 degree fever before the game, completed a fourth-down pass to Charles Holley on the final drive before changing the play call for Jones to run it in for the score.

Southern coach Russ Myers questioned the call of Jones crossing the goal line.

“You want my opinion?  He didn’t score.  That’s my opinion but my opinion doesn’t count.”

He added: “Our offense played well, we moved the ball pretty effectively all game.  Our defense did a pretty good job, we needed to make one more play and we just didn’t do it. That’s the most disappointing thing about it, for us to be this close and not get that one more play.”

Hammond will travel to top-seeded McDonough in the 2A South Regional title game next Friday for the right to advance to the State final four.


No. 14 Hammond 26, No. 19 Southern 21
1st Q
S-Burke 34 pass from Riggs (Brown kick) – 7:04
2nd Q
H-Paye 8 run (Ray kick) – 5:49
S-Burke 61 pass from Riggs (kick failed) – 4:57
3rd Q
H-Paye 31 run (Ray kick) – 7:26
S-Burke 54 run (Burke from Riggs) – 5:58
4th Q
H-Jones 6 run (kick failed) – 10:45
H-Jones 1 run – 0:00