Quarterback Brian McMahon scored on a 5-yard run, and Brett Haas kicked a 27-yard field goal as well as an extra point, Austin Tennessee and Curtis Pumphery made interceptions, and Josh Martin recovered a muffed punt as Atholton stunned defending Howard County champion and third-ranked River Hill, 10-0, ending the Hawks’ 48-game winning streak against league teams.
The Raiders rose to 3-2 on the year, rebounding from last week’s, 32-28 loss to Howard. An earlier loser to Hammond, which the Hawks (4-1) defeated, Atholton led, 10-0, at halftime and relied on clutch defensive play.
“We lost to them twice last year, including in the regional final, and I thought that they were better than us up front on both sides of the ball,” said Atholton coach Kyle Schmitt.
“I thought that this year, we had better players up front, and that our offensive and defensive lines were as good as theirs were,” said Schmitt. “Athletically, I never questioned our athletes against theirs. I think that we have some very good skilled players.”
Schmitt credited offensive linemen such as the Gordon twins, Kyle and Colin, Paul Federinko, Steve Whitting and Adam Brown for their collective play and defensively, the same corps of linemen with the addition of nose guard Anthony Ernest and defensive end Cameron Fogle.
Whitting and fellow linebacker, Pumphrey, also keyed the Raiders’ second-half shutout, but the tone-setter came with the Raiders leading, 7-0.
That’s when Fogle recovered a fumble at the Raiders’ 5-yard line on the Hawks’ second drive of the game.
“That was a huge, huge lift for us. We knew that we’d have to be key in recovering turnovers,” said Schmitt. “And then, when we got the ball back and were able to move the ball out of our in there on offense, that was critical in setting the tone. We played a great a field position game all night, and our defense played inspired football. I was really proud of those kids.”
Winners of consecutive Class 2A state titles in 2007 and 2008, and Class 3A state semifinalists last season, the Hawks had won five straight county titles, last losing in the league to Long Reach, 15-14, in the regular season of 2005 before avenging that loss in the playoffs. River Hill was the Class 3A state runner-up in 2006.
“We’re pretty big up front. I’d say that we average 6-foot-3, 6-3, and about 230 pounds. I thought that we were both good up front, but we simplified it for our kids this week. We didn’t run a bunch of complicated plays. And our kids just came of of the ball really well as a team,” said Schmitt.
“Plus, we had a great week of practice, and you just don’t have bad weeks of practice and then play great. I just don’t believe in that,” said Schmitt. “We played the way that we practiced, and that really translated on the field tonight on both sides of the ball.”
Atholton 10, River Hill 0
7 3 0 0 10
0 0 0 0 0
A– McMahon 5 run (Haas kick)
A– Haas 27 FG