All week, senior linebacker Robert Hogan said Meade’s defense only talked about one thing: eating.

“We knew we to had to come out for this game hungry,” Hogan said, “because we knew Broadneck was going to be hungry, too.”

In a game with 10 turnovers, 25 penalties, a botched punt, a safety and a 50-yard quarterback sneak that resulted in a touchdown, that hunger made all the difference.

No. 11 Meade collected five interceptions and forced one fumble, overcoming its offensive inefficiency in the first half to defeat Broadneck, 26-20, on Friday night in Fort Meade.

“This was probably the sloppiest game we played all year,” Meade Coach Rich Holzer said, “and we overcame it. I’m proud of the guys.”

The focus entering the game was on Broadneck’s defense, which had allowed a little more than nine points per game since a loss to No. 9 Old Mill in the first week of the season. But on Friday night, the Mustangs (8-1, 8-1 Anne Arundel) reminded the rest of the county that their defense is worth talking about, too.

Senior Kavon Witherspoon grabbed a pair of interceptions, including one at the end of the first half, and Hogan’s pick with 2 minutes 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter put the game on ice. Holzer said Meade’s pass defense was as good as it has been in a calendar year. Hogan said the key was just staying loose.

“When we play too uptight, we can’t focus,” Hogan said. “If we start thinking about stuff, that’s how we let stuff go.”

Defense kept the Mustangs in the game throughout the first half, when they tossed two interceptions of their own and the team struggled to move the ball. They tried to confuse Broadneck (7-2, 7-2) with a variety of motions and formations, but in the process, they might have also confused themselves.

“We just had to pick up the blitzes,” quarterback DJ Pate said. “They were blitzing a lot. That was the main strength of their defense. We just had to take our one-on-one matchups.”

Running back Kyle Evans , who began the night as the No. 3 rusher in the region, was mostly ineffective and rushed for only 62 yards on 14 carries in the first half. Holzer revealed after the game that the senior had been nursing an ankle sprain throughout the week.

Junior Travis Chidebe took his place in the second half and finished with 115 rushing yards. He was one of several players singled out after the game by Holzer as he addressed his team. He told them it was the program’s most important win at home since 2001, and given the playoff scenarios, it very well might have been.

With the victory, Meade all but locked up a spot in the Maryland 4A East region playoffs for the second straight year. But it faces rival Arundel next week in a game with more playoff implications. Holzer hopes his team will still be hungry.