Finally, after North Point’s Demarco Cuffey came down with the interception that sealed the Eagles’ 28-23 win over Oxon Hill in a Maryland 3A South semifinal, the senior could allow himself a moment to breathe.

Cuffey had drawn opponents’ best receiver all season and drawn his coaches’ ire during film sessions and practice as they worked with him on technique. On Friday night, he stayed with the Clippers’ Jaden Byrd on a deep ball when it mattered most.

“When [Byrd] lines up, he always go deep, so I just made the necessary adjustment and executed,” Cuffey said after pulling in the pick at the North Point 11. “This moment means a lot for me because all season everybody has been on my head.”

Corey Johnson’s four-yard score with 58 seconds remaining had given North Point the lead, capping off a drive of chunk runs from the senior and sophomore Michael Craig.

Less than a year after they lost to Quince Orchard in last season’s 4A state final, the Eagles’ hunger to get back to the title game remained. Against the Clippers (8-3), their push started on the ground.

“We had seen some things on film that showed us that the run would be there if we were just willing to play hard and do our job,” Craig said. “When it got late, we was tired, but I could see that [Oxon Hill] was more tired, so me and Corey just went and ran like we wanted it more.”

The game started fast, with each team scoring two touchdowns in a three-minute span. The defenses eventually found their footing, and the Eagles (9-2) entered the fourth quarter clinging to a 22-17 lead.

North Point drove deep into Oxon Hill territory before the Clippers’ defense stiffened, forcing a turnover on downs.

Oxon Hill then drove for a score and a 23-22 lead with 3:17 remaining, keyed by Robert Montgomery’s 40-yard pass to Kyree Clark that set up Kimon O’Sullivan’s five-yard touchdown run.

“I can’t lie to you. When they scored I was a little nervous,” Cuffey said. “But with the kind of offense that we have, if you leave us even one second on the clock, we still feel like we still have a good chance to win.”

North Point Coach Tom Petre said his team was prepared when the situation demanded it.

“Every day we talk to these guys about playing in the moment,” Petre said. “. . . Getting tested like this tonight will go far in us getting back to the stage.”