Damascus 14, Churchill 7

Matt Reidy got some dirt in his mouth at one point last night, prompting the Damascus senior standout to ask to come out for one play so he could get a drink of water. Otherwise, whether he was at running back on offense or free safety on defense, Reidy almost never left the field and almost always was in the center of the action.

Reidy carried 40 times for 193 yards and two touchdowns, threw for a two-point conversion and broke up a pair of passes in the end zone in the closing seconds, leading the fourth-ranked and defending state champion Swarmin' Hornets to a thrilling 14-7 victory over 16th-ranked Churchill in the Maryland 4A West Region final before an overflow crowd of 5,000 in Damascus.

It was the seventh consecutive victory for the Hornets (11-1), who will host North Region champion Patterson on Friday night in a state semifinal.

If all goes as expected, Reidy will carry the load again next week. Last night marked his 10th consecutive game with at least 100 yards rushing; Damascus ran only five plays that were not rushes by Reidy. In four playoff games last season and two this season, Reidy has carried 224 times for 1,231 yards and 11 touchdowns.

"Coach [Dan Makosy] always tries to tell me he's not going to give it to me as much as last game, but I know that's not true," Reidy said. "I know it's going to be in the thirties and forties. If I wasn't getting it, I'd be bored."

Last night, Reidy scored on a 30-yard run in the first quarter and a two-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. For the two-point conversion, Reidy caught a toss from the right and threw a pass to Austin Bernardo for a 14-0 lead.

Just when it seemed the Hornets might be on course for a blowout, Churchill (10-2) got back in the game. The Bulldogs' Matt Leemhuis intercepted a pass, leading to an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Scrivens to tight end Seth Dubin that made it 14-7 late in the second quarter.

Thereafter, Damascus turned to Reidy to eat up the clock, and Churchill narrowly missed out on a handful of scoring chances. The Bulldogs had a fourth-down pass go through a receiver's hands in the end zone and had a 53-yard completion to the Damascus 5-yard line nullified when officials ruled that Scrivens threw the ball one yard beyond the line of scrimmage.

Still, after stopping Reidy and forcing a punt, Churchill got the ball back for one last try. Starting from his 40 with 31 seconds left and out of timeouts, Scrivens completed two passes to move the ball to the Damascus 25 with 11 seconds left. Reidy and Travis Wertz broke up passes, setting up one final play. Reidy ran to the left to knock down a pass into the end zone, setting off a raucous celebration. "I'm exhausted," Reidy said. "I'll be tired all day tomorrow. Normally, it's Monday until I get my energy back."

Matt Reidy of Damascus breaks free from the Churchill defense to score on a 30-yard run in the first quarter. He scored again with a two-yard run in the second quarter of the Hornets' playoff win. Damascus' Bryan Letourneau drops Churchill quarterback Nick Scrivens for a loss, ending a Bulldogs drive in the 4A West Region final. The Swarmin' Hornets won their seventh straight.