Severna Park 29, Broadneck 27
Jonathan Hartman called it the most important athletic moment of his life, but even that didn't quite capture the consequences of his last-second, 32-yard field goal last night in Annapolis.
To Hartman's Severna Park team, the kick meant a 29-27 win over host Broadneck. It meant a playoff berth in the Maryland 3A South Region. It meant a chance to storm the opponents' field and celebrate one of the biggest victories in school history.
To Broadneck (9-1), the kick meant the end of a 28-game Anne Arundel County winning streak, causing many on the sideline to burst into tears.
"Hands down, that's my biggest moment," Hartman said. "I just didn't want to choke. I didn't want to mess up. There was too much on the line."
Hartman's kick, his third field goal of the game, barely fluttered over Broadneck's defensive line and sneaked just inside the left upright. As improbable as the kick seemed, it was normal compared to the drive that preceded it.
Down 27-26, Severna Park took over on its 20-yard line with 90 seconds left and no timeouts. The Falcons marched down the field thanks to a set of plays one Falcons player referred to as a miracle: A 20-yard pass on fourth and 19, a 10-yard pass on third and nine, a 15-yard, unnecessary roughness penalty against Broadneck.
"We almost lost it," said Severna Park Coach J.P. Hines, who later called the win the biggest of his career. "These kids played together and they played with heart. To march down the field like that and score, that was just unbelievable. The odds were stacked against them."
The odds were stacked against the Falcons, though, long before their final drive. Severna Park (7-3, 3-1) played the game with a lineup that some of its own players struggled to identify.
The Falcons' best player (quarterback Greg Zingler) turned into a water boy after breaking his hand in a game last week. Their starting quarterback (Andrew Ferris) has spent most of the season as the team's star running back. Their starting running back (Ryan Clark) is a freshman who had played on the junior varsity team all season.
Oh, and Severna Park hadn't scored an offensive touchdown against Broadneck -- much less beaten the Bruins -- since 1999.
"We had all the chances, we had plenty of advantages," Broadneck Coach Jeff Herrick said. "This was a great game, and we could have had it. But none of that matters now."
Here's what does: Severna Park, a team whose season came so close to being over, will play a 3A South playoff game next weekend. Broadneck, a team whose season came so close to being perfect, will play as the No. 1 seed in the 4A East.
"This game was just so intense and emotional," Herrick said. "The important thing now is how everybody responds."