Defending Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champion Northern kept the zero in the loss column last night by chalking up its second conference win, a 22-8 victory over Chopticon at Braves Stadium.

The Patriots (4-0) will play McDonough in a battle for SMAC supremacy next weekend.

Northern is known for starting slowly, and it was no different last night as Chopticon (2-2) scored early to take an 8-0 lead.

The Braves' passing game was ineffective as quarterback Dereck Curtis completed two of eight attempts for 22 yards in the first half. So Chopticon relied heavily on running back Dennis Hill, who ran for 109 yards on 17 carries.

Chopticon scored on its first possession, using its sweep to go 73 yards on 11 plays. Hill's seventh carry, a 10-yarder, gave Chopticon the lead. The Braves duped the Patriots by setting up in a kick formation before Curtis ran in from seven yards for a two-point conversion.

After their lackluster performance in the first quarter, the Patriots surged back in the second. Damian Jones took them 73 yards in less than two minutes, running five times for all the yardage. He capped the drive with a 17-yard run. Northern quarterback Dennis Jones threw to Guy Smith for the conversion that tied the game.

Chopticon committed a turnover on the following possession when Hill fumbled and Northern defensive back David Dickens recovered.

Four plays later, Damian Jones's three-yard touchdown run with 4:36 remaining gave Northern the advantage, 14-8.

Northern added insurance points by scoring on its second possession of the fourth quarter. Running back Earl Harris, who rushed for 67 yards on 12 carries in the second half, led the Patriots' running game. Harris's third one-yard run, with five minutes left, accounted for the Patriots' final touchdown. Dennis Jones dashed in on the conversion attempt to provide the final points.

Northern Coach Jerry Franks said: "It's always hard to come back after being down, and win the game. Damian Jones and Earl Harris both carried really well for us today."