Severna Park Coach J.P. Hines gave his defense a challenge before last night's game with Old Mill. He told the Falcons that if they wanted to win, they would have to stop Patriots running back Kelvin Collins.
Collins entered the game with 1,493 rushing yards, but No. 16 Severna Park held him to just 57 yards on 28 carries. Severna Park's defense also came up with a critical goal-line stand in the fourth quarter to preserve a 14-7 victory over visiting Old Mill in an Anne Arundel County game.
Severna Park (9-1) locked up the 4A East Region championship with the win and will host a first-round game next weekend. This was the team's first region title since 1988. Severna Park last made the playoffs in 1994.
Old Mill (7-3) still has a chance to make the playoffs, but the Patriots need some help. They will need some teams to lose games today to open up a playoff spot. Old Mill last made the playoffs in 1991.
If the Patriots don't make postseason play, Severna Park's defense will be what kept them out. The Falcons held the Patriots to 83 yards total offense in the second half and just 213 yards overall.
Old Mill was averaging nearly 33 points coming into the game, but the Patriots' offense never got going. Collins never gained more than 12 yards on a carry and rarely had room to run. On the other hand, Severna Park's Derek Dixon ran for 103 yards on 21 carries.
Middle linebacker David Wagner led the Falcons' defense with 18 tackles and two sacks, roaming all around the field to make plays.
Outside linebacker Todd Soroka and defensive end Doug Hoffman each had 13 tackles and defensive tackle Bernie Williams added 12.
"I think the defense, as a whole, played tough tonight," Hoffman said. "We knew [stopping Collins] was the key."
The play of Paul Gillette was another key. Gillette turned a swing pass from Chris Odom into a 55-yard gain on Severna Park's second possession. Gillette ran for a one-yard score two plays later. He then kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Odom then threw a 26-yard touchdown to Gillette in the second quarter. Gillette then added the extra point for a 14-0 lead with 7 minutes 58 seconds left in the first half.
Old Mill then drove 73 yards on 12 plays, capped by Collins's 12-yard touchdown run with 1:44 left in the half to make it 14-7.
The Patriots' best scoring chance came midway through the fourth quarter when Mark Smith picked up an incomplete pass that was ruled a lateral and returned it 34 yards to the Severna Park 3.
But the Falcons stopped the Patriots on four plays, the final one being Wagner's diving knockdown of a Brian Williams pass.