In game after game during Huntingtown’s one-loss season, defense had been the Hurricanes’ stronger side of the ball.
People doubted the offense, running back Arnez Bowens said, and said it was struggling, so the unit gave itself a goal of scoring 40 points in the Maryland 3A South region final against Lackey. It was a lofty target given that the Chargers defense had allowed 12 points or fewer in four straight games.
Bowens and the Hurricanes missed the mark by one, but earned their fifth straight region title with a 39-24 win. They will host Maryland 3A North champion Franklin in a state semifinal on Friday.
“The offense played phenomenally,” junior linebacker Brian McCourt said. “They drove up and down the field and they did what they were asked. They made it very easy for the defense to get out there and do what we do. For our defense, this may not be the best game we played all year, but the offense kept us in this.”
Bowens finished with 273 yards and three touchdowns on 41 carries.
Huntingtown (11-1) led 17-12 at halftime and killed most of the third quarter with an 11-play 69-yard drive. Huntingtown extended its lead to 24-12 when Robbie Payne tossed a touchdown pass to Tim Pawlowski to put the Hurricanes up by two scores for the first time in the game with 4:07 left in the third.
From there, Huntingtown continued chipping away at a Chargers defense that had allowed just 18 points in its previous four games.
“We came out with intensity and we came out fired up,” Bowens said.
Lackey’s best chances came when quarterback Joseph Beckford was able to find wide receiver Lucas Ethington. The Chargers (9-3) scored their first touchdown on a 15-yard reception from Ethington, and the second came on a 99-yard kickoff return from Eriq Fadahunsi.
“Our offense bailed us out,” Huntingtown Coach Brendan Galligan said.
Huntingtown lost more than 20 players to graduation from the team that reached the Maryland 3A final last year and returned only one starter on offense.
Now the Hurricanes are one game away from getting back to the title game.
“It’s about execution from this point on,” Galligan said. “At this time of year, it’s all about whoever screws up the least.”