The ball spiraled out from the right hand of Sherwood's Deontay Twyman, and all Damascus defensive back Austin Bernardo could think about were the words of his coaches resonating through his head, those everyday reminders about being in the right place at the right time and something will happen.
Sure enough, Bernardo made a break for the ball, snagged it in mid-flight and raced 50 yards for the final touchdown of top-ranked Damascus's 25-7 win at No. 8 Sherwood last night in a Montgomery County 4A East game.
"My coaches have been on me reading my guy in front of me, and you've got to be quick on your feet," said Bernardo, who scored with less than two minutes left in the game. "I appreciate them being on me all year. That's a play I never make."
Bernardo's interception was the final big play in a game marked by the Swarmin' Hornets' dominant rushing attack and a bend-but-don't-break defense that forced four turnovers, including two interceptions late in the fourth quarter that quelled Sherwood's hopes of a comeback.
Twyman completed 14 of 23 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown, but Damascus (7-0, 4-0) held the Warriors to 53 yards rushing and limited one of the area's most explosive offenses to its lowest scoring total of the season.
"The offensive line gets a lot of credit because we spend a lot of time on offense during the games, but the defense has come through all year," Damascus Coach Dan Makosy said. "We knew Twyman would get his yardage, but we just wanted to keep him out of the end zone."
Kyle Hogan ran for 130 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, and Steven Anderson added 128 yards on 18 carries as the Hornets totaled 275 rushing yards, including 201 in the first half.
Damascus drove 68 yards on 12 plays during the game's first drive -- all runs -- ending in a three-yard touchdown by Anderson. Sherwood (6-1, 5-1) fumbled on the first play of the ensuing drive, and Anderson capitalized six plays later, rumbling 35 yards for the score to give Damascus a 12-0 lead.
Sherwood cut the lead to 12-7 at the start of the second quarter, as Twyman completed passes of 33 and 35 yards, respectively, before finding Matt Hough in the back of the end zone for a two-yard score. But Hogan scored on a 32-yard run during the next drive, and Damascus grabbed an 18-7 lead heading into halftime.
"We do a pretty good job of keeping both backs in," Anderson said. They alternate "two plays, two plays, two plays. We both keep fresh, our legs are fresh, and we keep the ball moving."