Damascus running back Steve Anderson could sense impending victory the moment a defender bounced off his churning legs late in the fourth quarter Friday night.
As Anderson raced toward the corner of the end zone at M&T Bank Stadium on the last of his 34 carries -- a 42-yard touchdown run -- he put the final stamp on No. 1 Damascus's 21-6 victory over No. 4 Sherwood in the Maryland 4A championship game.
"We all wanted a state championship bad. We could taste it. We could smell it. We could see it," Anderson said. "That last run, I knew as soon as I broke that one tackle and I was gone, I was just thinking, 'State champs, man. State champs.' "
Friday night's performance was the final chapter in the first-ever undefeated season for Damascus (14-0). In winning their second state title in three seasons and the sixth in the history of the program, the Swarmin' Hornets exorcised the demons they had carried with them since a 14-7 loss to Suitland in last year's title game
"Believe it or not, you do script it out in August that this is the way it's going to unfold," Coach Dan Makosy said. "It happened. I should probably retire now. It was a perfect year for us."
As Anderson led the way with 250 yards and three scores, Damascus followed the same blueprint that had carried it all season long. There were no wrinkles; no trick plays. The team simply ran the ball and never stopped. It had 79 plays to Sherwood's 34 and amassed 418 yards on the ground.
"Damascus is probably stronger than us," Sherwood Coach Al Thomas said. "You saw it and we knew it. They must have had a zillion more plays. They could four- and five-yard us to death."
What Damascus's running game did more than anything was keep Sherwood quarterback Deontay Twyman and one of the area's most explosive offenses off the field. The Hornets limited Sherwood (12-2) to three possessions in the first half and held the ball for more than 36 minutes of the 48-minute game.
Meantime Damascus, which snared three interceptions during a 25-7 victory over Sherwood on Oct. 21, picked off Twyman four times Friday night -- three by senior safety Nick Sefcik.
"That's what good passers do, they just keep coming back," Sefcik said. "I was ready all the time because I knew they were going to keep coming back to it."
At no time was the teams' contrast in styles more evident than on each of their first drives. Damascus took the opening kickoff and marched 13 plays before Anderson punched in a one-yard touchdown run.
It took Sherwood only six plays and less than three minutes to get on the board. Twyman completed four passes to Ben Everett -- the last a 19-yard touchdown strike -- and Sherwood made it 7-6. But Damascus took control the rest of the way.
"We're just a bunch of farm boys from Damascus," Anderson said. "We just run the ball and play defense. The last three years we showed everybody."