There was every reason to expect a shootout last night at Old Mill, where two potent offenses were coming off 30-plus point games in playoff victories last week. With their first trip to a state semifinal at stake, however, the Patriots turned to their defense to deliver a 19-7 victory over Arundel in a 4A East Region Final.
Old Mill forced four interceptions, the key to the Patriots' sixth win in their past seven games against Arundel.
"It's a great feeling," said Old Mill running back Ryan Callahan. "Our defense played an excellent game today. Everyone stayed on track, nobody fell off."
After going 14 of 18 for 140 yards in last week's win over Thomas Stone, Wildcats quarterback Kyle Sumpter finished with 88 yards on 7-of-17 passing, four interceptions and one touchdown.
"Our defense did an awesome job," said Old Mill Coach Mike Marcus, whose team consistently pressured Sumpter. "We mixed up a lot of coverages and we rotated four defensive ends at those guys, which really did a good job of making [Sumpter] step up."
Callahan opened the scoring in the second quarter for the Patriots (10-2), taking a punt return 53 yards for a touchdown and jump-starting a team that was forced to punt on its first five possessions. It was Callahan's third special teams touchdown of the season.
After an interception on Arundel's next possession, Old Mill struck on its first play from scrimmage as wide receiver Steve Holmes beat the defense on a post route and quarterback Kelian Stevens found him for a 51-yard touchdown pass that gave the Patriots a 13-0 late in the first half.
Arundel (9-3), which lost, 41-14, to Old Mill in the season opener, rallied. The Wildcats got within a touchdown before intermission when Sumpter teamed with Brandon Johnson-Farrell for a 36-yard touchdown.
In the second half, the defenses took over. The only scoring of the final two quarters came in the fourth, when Callahan broke loose on his longest run of the night, a 31-yard scoring scamper around the left side that gave him 105 yards on 22 carries and put the game away with under two minutes to play.
"Oh my God, I can't believe it happened myself," Callahan said. "I saw a seam on the outside so I just took it."