River Hill 19, Hebron 17
River Hill senior kicker Ryan Deiter stood on the 29-yard line midway through the fourth quarter against Mount Hebron last night with one thought on his mind: redemption.
"It was all going to come down to this," he said. "I was the reason why we were in the position we were in, so I had to make it."
No. 19 River Hill was trailing by a point after Deiter shanked an extra point a few minutes earlier, yet he calmly delivered the game-winning, 39-yard field goal in the Hawks' 19-17 victory over Mount Hebron in a Howard County game in front of 2,900 spectators in Ellicott City.
"That was the biggest kick of my life," said Deiter, who has made all five of his field goal attempts this season. "The whole game pretty much came down to whether I made it. I had to because we were losing because of me."
Deiter's kick from the left hashmark lifted the undefeated Hawks (9-0 overall, 8-0 league) to at least a share of their second consecutive Howard County title, which they can claim outright with a victory over Howard next Friday. It was the first loss for Mount Hebron (8-1, 7-1).
Leading 10-3 at halftime, the Vikings appeared to take control on their second play of the third quarter, when junior running back Chris Eccleston (11 carries, 88 yards) took a handoff from senior quarterback Kyle Barnett and burst through the middle for a 61-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 17-3.
But the Hawks, who had not trailed in the second half of any previous game this season, pulled to within 17-10 when senior running back Tyler Martin caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Ben Hostetler with 4 minutes 12 seconds remaining in the third quarter. On River Hill's next possession, Martin scored on a seven-yard run to close the margin to 17-16. But Deiter's extra point sailed wide left. Hostetler, playing safety, stopped the Vikings on their next possession by making his school-record 10th interception and promptly drove the Hawks downfield to set up Deiter's kick.
"I told Ryan to just kick like he's been kicking it all year," said Hostetler, who holds for Deiter. "For as bad as things were for us in the first half, we never gave up because we knew we'd find a way to win a close game."
Hostetler completed 12 of 22 passes for 181 yards with a touchdown and one interception, but a solid running game -- led by Martin (21 carries, 107 yards) and junior Darol Smith (12 carries, 56 yards) -- was the difference as the Hawks ground out the victory.
"This was the biggest game of the year because it meant so much for us," Martin said. "We knew the winner of this game was going to win the county title, so we went out there and took the game over in the second half."