Fifteenth-ranked Laurel made three interceptions yesterday and turned one of them into a touchdown as the Spartans celebrated homecoming with an 8-6 victory over league rival Bladensburg.

The result improved Laurel to 7-0, 6-0 and gave the Spartans a virtual stranglehold on first place in the Prince George's 3A/2A league. The Mustangs fell to 5-2, 4-2.

Laurel ran off tackle the entire game, controlling the ball and the clock. The Spartans didn't gain a ton of yardage but they didn't turn over the ball either.

"We knew we had to stop their running game," said Bladensburg Coach Pat Murphy, "So we went to an eight-man line and stayed there the whole time. We wanted to throw the ball because we know the running game is what they do."

Laurel linebacker Marcus Barnett intercepted freshman quarterback Jamal Francois on Bladensburg's 17-yard line early in the second quarter, a turnover that led to the Spartans' score.

"On this team it takes a little defense to get the offense to operate well," said Barnett, who picked off another pass in the fourth quarter.

"I saw him {Francois} roll out to the right," said Barnett. "It seems like he does that a lot . . . and luckily I was able to dive and catch it."

After the turnover, Mark Tiamson carried 11 yards to the 3 and Tony Pierce ran it in from there with 9:16 left in the half. Tiamson affixed the two-point conversion, which turned out to be the margin of victory, on a screen pass from quarterback William Griffin.

On the most exciting play of the game, the Mustangs had the ball at their 40 with :02 left in the first half. In a display of composure far beyond his 14 years, Francois dropped back, eluded three blitzing defenders, let his receivers get downfield and hit wide-open running back Lee Anderson in the end zone for a touchdown.

"Its called a 'Forty-Go,' " said Francois, "Four guys {receivers} line up and everybody just flies."

Francois was stopped on a bootleg as the Mustangs went for two points to tie.

The Spartans intercepted Francois twice in the fourth quarter. The Mustangs had a chance to win, at that, but Tim Allen was wide on a 30-yard place kick with 1:08 left.