One of the most successful seasons in South River football’s history came to an end Friday night, as the Seahawks fell to reigning state champions, the Old Mill Patriots 21-7.
After defeating the same Old Mill side in a shootout the previous week, the renowned South River passing game—led by senior quarterback Connor Cox and senior wide receiver Eric Young—was contained by a brutal Patriot secondary, which held the Seahawks to only three receptions in the first half.
Patriots running back Shawn Brown made use of his 39 carries, as he gained a massive 225 yards and 2 scores on the ground. Old Mill realized early that the running game was working as they elected to rush on the first 19 consecutive plays and kept with it throughout the game—dominating the play clock.
After a first quarter Patriot touchdown, the South River side gained defensive momentum, but ultimately sputtered offensively in the early parts of the game, possibly due to an injury Cox sustained after a tough hit.
The Seahawks’ improving defense once again forced a turnover as a bad snap gave the offense the ball at the 41-yard line. South River failed to convert on the opportunity to match Old Mill’s lone touchdown, as a hurting Cox and the offense struggled again against the very athletic Patriot secondary.
Khari Murphy’s fumble late in the second quarter allowed Old Mill to regain possession, and run the clock out, to go into the half with a narrow lead of 7-0.
South River received the ball after half time, where the Seahawks began to establish the passing game. Cox found the quick Lavon Chaney for a couple of screen passes—helping to open up the possibility of the deep threat later in the game. South River, a team that rarely punts, failed on a second fourth down attempt after a solid defensive effort by Old Mill. The Patriots capitalized on their opportunity as Brown went through the pylon for his second score of the night, giving the Patriots a 14-0 lead with 7:24 left in the third quarter.
South River began to make progress as they marched down the field, but with 3:04 left in the third quarter, the offensive struggles continued as Old Mill’s secondary intercepted Connor Cox for a large return. After an illegal block in the back by the Patriots, the ball was set near midfield, but on the first play following the interception, Old Mill’s quarterback Brady Ludwig found Raykwon Young for a long touchdown pass, dropping South River into a deep 21-0 hole with time dwindling down.
South River’s well-known passing game finally began to surge as Cox hit Khari Murphy for a redemptiver 31-yard catch with 1:15 left in the third quarter. Following a defensive holding penalty that set the ball at the 19, South River capitalized as James Smith hauled in a rocket pass by Connor Cox to cut the lead to 14.
Old Mill continued to pound the ball on the ground, but was stopped on a big fourth and short as senior Matt Gaskins tossed Shawn Brown to the ground, igniting hope into the South River side. Cox and the offense continued in success, until they were met in the red zone on fourth and short—failing on a flea-flicker trick pass.
Old Mill’s running game stayed dominate throughout the rest of the fourth quarter, as the defense once again intercepted the frustrated Seahawks’ offense. After a few first downs for the Patriots, the game was put out of reach for South River, as Old Mill opted to kneel the ball in the red zone to finish the game, and with it South River’s truly incredible season.
A tough night for Seahawks, who saw dropped passes and missed opportunities on offense plague them in their battle with a great team—but the outcome of a single down game cannot overshadow their year of success.
South River, under second year coach, Lance Clelland, achieved an impressive 8-2 record on the season and reached the playoffs for the second straight year, as the third seed in the county. South River has several seniors being recruited by NCAA college teams, and has no shortage of future in the youth of the program. After a tough playoff loss to the reigning Maryland state champions, South River football should be proud of their historic year, and has nowhere to look but up for the 2013 season.