River Hill junior cornerback Raamah Vaughn didn’t know right away that he had caught the ball. He jumped the route, leaped over the wide receiver and picked off a pass, coming up with arguably the biggest play of the game.
“I saw [Wilde Lake quarterback] Joe Kelly roll out, I stepped up on the ball and I don’t know how I caught it actually because I closed my eyes,” Vaughn said. “I opened my eyes, looked down and the ball was in my hands and I just ran…”
Vaughn returned the pick 78-yards for a score, giving the No. 7 Hawks a two touchdown lead over Wilde Lake as River Hill went on to defeat the visiting Wildecats, 21-6 on Friday night.
“That interception return was huge,” said River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen. “We got the first touchdown, then that play gave us a little cushion. That was a big spark that we needed.”
The Hawks improved to 6-1 overall and in Howard County league play while Wilde Lake dropped to 5-2 in both.
River Hill is now tied with No. 19 Hammond for first place in the league and currently holds the top spot in the Class 3A East Regional race.
“This was a big game, you had the two top teams in the county and the region going against each other,” said Hawks lineman Breon Hebron. “So we knew what this game was going to do for us later on and by winning this, we think we have a good foot up on the county and region right now.”
“This was a big game for both teams,” said River Hill senior linebacker Brent Kluge. “But we knew after losing to Atholton, we had to step our game up and send a message, not only in the game against Howard but also in this game against Wilde Lake.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Hawks got on the board first after Kluge ran for a 17-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter. The point after by kicker Bernie Gershenson gave River Hill a 7-0 advantage.
Later, just before halftime, Vaughn returned the interception, giving the Hawks a 14-0 lead heading into the intermission.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Wildecats’ senior running back Anthony Miller returned the kick from his own 3-yard line all the way to the River Hill 26, giving Wilde Lake a boast in momentum.
But the Hawks defense stopped the Wildecats on fourth-down as Kelly’s pass into the end zone was incomplete, giving the momentum back to River Hill.
Quarterback Harry McLaughlin went in for a one-yard sneak to put the Hawks ahead 21-0 and later, the River Hill defense would again stop Wilde Lake on fourth down in the third quarter.
Kelly hooked up with Jordan Mynatt for a 39-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter but the Wildecats couldn’t recover the onside kick. The Hawks ran out most of the clock in the fourth, completing the victory.
Wilde Lake had outscored its last three opponents 141-0 but had a hard time moving the River Hill defense.
“Our defense played great tonight,” said Van Deusen. “Wilde Lake is a very good team; they have been rolling over their last three opponents…I’m really proud of our defensive effort. We played strong for four quarters, we gave up one big play that got the one touchdown but all in all, I think our defense played great.”
|No. 3 River Hill 21, Wilde Lake 6|
|RH-Kluge 17 run (Gershenson kick)|
|RH-Vaughn 78 interception ret. (Gershenson kick)|
|RH-McLaughlin 1 run (Gershenson kick)|
|WL-Maynatt 39 pass from Kelly (pass failed)|