As the final seconds ticked off the clock in Pasadena Friday night, the Chesapeake football team was forced to confront the all-too-familiar feeling of a quality win that slipped away.
The Cougars limited No. 9 Old Mill (8-0) to eight offensive plays in the first half, but after two blocked field goals and a costly sack and forced fumble in the final minute, they could only watch as Patriots kicker Brady Hannon’s 27-yarder split the uprights with 11 seconds left.
Old Mill won, 10-7, and kept their hopes of an undefeated season alive. Chesapeake (3-5) has now lost five games by a total of 19 points, including two in overtime.
“Everyone has their own opinions, but we outplayed that team everywhere but the scoreboard,” Chesapeake Coach Rob Elliott said. “To go out and take the big guy on the block down to the wire, we’re very proud of our kids.”
While Old Mill has won a state title and reached the playoffs in 14 straight seasons, the Cougars made school history in 2011 and 2012 by finishing .500 or better in back-to-back seasons. The team is in the middle of an upswing, and six-point losses to perennial powers like Broadneck (20-14 in overtime on Oct. 11) and Meade (37-31 on Sept. 27) are proof.
When he first took over the varsity squad nearly three years ago, Elliott remembers a game against Arundel in which his players looked deflated before they even took the field. Compare that game to Friday night’s loss, and the growth becomes clear.
“We went into this game feeling like we could win,” he said. “That’s something we’re very proud of.”
Old Mill Coach Chad McCormick also had plenty to be proud of Friday night. As his team staved off an upset, his senior kicker also rebounded from two missed field goals earlier in the second half. Hannon’s first attempt was just wide left, while his second attempt from 39 yards out was on the edge of his range. Teammates reassured Hannon after the second miss that he would get another opportunity, and with 11 seconds left, he did.
“People make mistakes all the time in football. A kicker is just like say a lineman [that] misses a block, it’s just that sometimes the kicker is more on center stage,” McCormick said. “For him to rebound and get that redemption, it was a great job and I’m really happy for him.”
Arundel entered Friday night’s game against Broadneck on a five-game winning streak in which they had scored nearly 46 points per game. The Bruins, meanwhile, had allowed an average of nine points during that same span.
In what was supposed to be a war of strengths, Broadneck jumped out to a 31-0 lead at halftime and held on for a 37-18 victory. The Bruins (7-1) blocked a punt, intercepted two passes and held Arundel’s no-huddle offense to minus-34 rushing yards and 224 total yards.
“They’re a very good team, but our expectation was to just shut them down,” said nose tackle Landon Reecher, who finished with 9 1/2 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble. “We knew our defense could do it, and we did.”
The game had significant playoff implications in the Maryland 4A East region, where Broadneck, Arundel (6-2) and Meade (7-1) are each fighting for a spot. The Mustangs will host Broadneck on Friday night before traveling to Arundel in the final week of the season.