It was a tale of three games Friday night in Havre de Grace, when the visiting No. 6 North Harford Hawks battled the hosting Warriors on the gridiron, resulting in the Hawks’ eighth consecutive win, 29-20.
The three-part story included a battle between two equal teams playing to a 7-6 first half, progressed in its second chapter into a third quarter of North Harford dominance, and concluded with the comeback hopes of the Warriors being crushed late in the fourth quarter.
Our story starts in the early minutes of the first quarter, where the normally dominant North Harford (8-0, 5-0) offense was shutdown cold by the Warriors’ (6-2, 4-1) defense to a quick three-and-out, but an interception by Hawk Nate Brockmeyer on Havre de Grace’s first offensive play put the wind back in the North Harford sails.
Marching down the field on a nine-play drive, the Hawks were on the Warriors’ doorstep before senior Travonn Bond grabbed an interception at his own 16-yard line and allowed teammate Darin Washington to lead his offense on a 12-play, 84-yard scoring drive ending with his own one-yard touchdown rush to end the quarter with a 6-0 lead.
But the celebrations would be short lived when North Harford senior quarterback Cody Turner stepped back on the field, hooking up with junior TJ Hilton for a 45-yard strike and setting up his own 18-yard scramble into the endzone to reclaim the lead, 7-6.
“I thought the first half was a little sluggish,” Hawks’ head coach Ken Brinkman explained. “We came out and were able to lead 7-6, but the second half I thought we were able to run the ball, control the ball and we had some big plays.
Turner didn’t spend much time off the field, Friday, playing both ways and making himself a menace to every facet of the Warriors’ game.
Making his first pick of the game with a minute and a half left in the second quarter, Turner again stepped in front of a Havre de Grace pass in the final ticks of the first half, totaling three of the Hawks’ four interceptions in 24 minutes.
Chapter two of the Hawks showdown with the Warriors took just two plays to come to speed, when Turner earned his third interception of the game to set up a six-yard touchdown run by senior Brandon Bayer for a 15-6 lead.
“I was reading his eyes and playing our coverages,” Turner explained. “We have different coverages that pertain to what I am supposed to do.”
Bayer would convert on a two-point conversion with a little help from Havre de Grace, who bumped him half the distance to the goal on an encroachment penalty.
“I think we woke up,” Brinkman said of the halftime changes. “I don’t think we wore them down, I think we were just able to wake up and do the things right.
“We didn’t change anything,” he added about the Hawks’ pass defense. “We played our coverages and we did what we wanted. We wanted to pressure on him but we wanted to keep him in the pocket and get sacks.”
Continuing the North Harford dominance of the third quarter, the Hawks added touchdown drive, with six of the eight carries going to Bayer for 52 of the 61 yards, and culminating with a Turner touchdown run of four yards for his second score of the night to lead 22-6.
Bayer’s first half of 27 rushing yards was forgotten in the second half, as he gained more than 150 yards on his own.
“Our line picked up the second half,” Bayer said. “I didn’t shuffle my feet [like in the first half]; I was more down hill. I was disappointed in my running in the first half, and overall we just played with more intensity.”
By this point in our story, the games seems to be on the path of a blowout, but Warrior head coach Johnny Brooks is not one to lay down, no matter what the situation is.
Behind in points and with nearly a fresh quarter, Washington showed off his brilliant passing abilities, completing seven of nine passes for two touchdowns, including a six-yard fade pass to senior Dayshawn Bolling, a two-point conversion lazer to Bond, and connecting with Bond on the Warriors’ last possession for a 26-yard post to finish the Havre de Grace scoring.
“You know he is going to make big plays,” Brinkman said of the young Washington. “He is that kind of athlete. But we wanted to get pressure and get interceptions.”
The only problem with the Havre de Grace effort was it was little too late, after Bayer broke a first play, 67-yard touchdown run with eight minutes remaining in the game to put the Hawks out of reach.
“We bounced back and the kids showed some character,” Brooks said of his players. “They didn’t put their heads down and quit.
“It was a little roller coaster ride,” he continued of Washington’s day passing. “He made some really outstanding plays, and he also threw off his back foot. We will make the corrections on that, but he played well.”
Washington ended the night with 213 passing yards, throwing two touchdowns, a two-point conversion, four interceptions and a rushing touchdown.
Collecting wins over Fallston, Joppatowne and Havre de Grace, North Harford is the only undefeated team left in the UCBAC’s Chesapeake Division, and with C. Mlton Wright and Elkton left on the schedule, one win earns the Hawks the 2010 crown. But that isn’t the main goal, according to Brinkman.
“I think everybody’s goal at this point is, if you are in [the playoffs], you want to be at M&T,” Brinkman said. “If it’s not, you shouldn’t be in the playoffs.”
Havre de Grace will undoubtedly be headed to the 1A playoffs in just a few weeks, but also have to face the tough Joppatowne Mariners and Fallston Cougars before the post-season.
“It was a good game, but we can’t worry about this loss because we have a big one next week,” Brooks said. “We haven’t beat Joppatowne in the regular season in quite a while.”
Joppatowne visits Havre de Grace next Friday, while North Harford travels to C. Milton Wright.
(for video highlights and interviews, visit the related videos tab at the top of the page)
No. 6 North Harford 29, Havre de Grace 20
HDG-Washington 1 run (failed kick)
NH-Turner 18 run (Lenane kick)
run (Bayer 2 run)
NH-Turner 4 run (Lenane kick)
HDG-Bolling 6 pass from Washington (Bond 3 pass from Washington)
NH-Bayer 67 run (Lenane kick)
HDG-Bond 26 pass from Washington (conversion failed)