“That’s a two-point conversion play,” Holzer would always tell him. “We can’t run that until we need it.”
With 48 seconds left in Friday night’s Maryland 4A East region final against No. 15 Arundel, the Mustangs needed it. Instead of kicking an extra point after a 29-yard touchdown pass from DJ Pate to Tyree Turner, Holzer kept his offense on the field for a two-point conversion and called “orange.” Hammond barreled into the end zone, giving No. 17 Meade a 22-21 win over its Anne Arundel County rival.
The Mustangs (10-2) will return to the 4A state semifinals for the second consecutive year. Next week, they will travel to face the winner of Saturday’s 4A South final between Suitland and DuVal. And it’s all because of one play.
“We were going to control our own destiny,” Holzer said of the call. “We were either going to win it or lose it by our own hands. We weren’t going to leave it to Arundel to decide our fate for us in overtime.”
Meade has run similar plays this season, but “orange” is in a unique formation with a unique motion. With three potential ball carriers in the backfield and two tight ends flexed to the right, the play brings running back Kyle Evans across the formation, opening a hole for Hammond.
Evans entered Friday night as the area’s fifth-ranked rusher and had already run for 135 yards on the night. So when he moved right as if he was running a sweep, Arundel’s defense followed.
“It was wide open,” Hammond said. “Once I got it, it was a wrap.”
Hammond was one of Meade’s goal line running backs last season, but he hadn’t touched the ball this season until Friday night.
“I’ve been asking Coach every time it’s a close game, ‘Let me get it, Coach, let me get it,’” Hammond said, grinning. “It took him too long, but I guess that’s why he’s the coach.”
After losing to Arundel in overtime in the final week of the regular season, Holzer and his staff looked back at the game and realized that they had been too timid. They scored on a late touchdown pass, then kicked the extra point to go into overtime and eventually lost.
“We were hesitant as a coaching staff. We were not aggressive. We were not ourselves,” Holzer said. “And we said that’s going to change. We made a conscious effort to change that.”
After the conversion, Arundel (9-3) took possession and marched to Meade’s 25-yard line for a final play. Quarterback Anthony Messenger, who finished with 176 passing yards, hurled the ball high into the end zone. Hammond knocked it down.