Surrattsville Coach Robert Harris Jr. told his team to expect a stiff test from a “hard-nosed” Sparrows Point team in Saturday’s Maryland 1A North region final.

And for the first 45 minutes in Clinton, that’s exactly what the Hornets got. For every touchdown the Hornets scored, the Pointers of Baltimore County responded with one of their own. Even the fans on opposite sides of the field kept up with the spirited call-and-response.

But midway through the fourth quarter, Surrattsville delivered the pivotal blow. Using a play they installed just five days prior, the Hornets grabbed the momentum and hung on for a 36-28 victory that delivered the school’s first-ever region title in football.

Surrattsville (10-2) will travel to Fort Hill for next week’s 1A semifinal.

The Hornets faked a punt with 7 minutes 17 seconds remaining and put the ball in the hands of wide receiver Trey Lancaster, who found fellow wideout Joel Dixon Jr. open on the right side for a 65-yard touchdown reception.

Harris Jr. decided after last week’s region semifinal game that his team needed something new on special teams. The answer came in the form of a “Tulsa” play, which Dixon Jr. said he practiced over and over throughout the week.

Harris Jr. expected the unconventional formation might at least cause the Pointers to burn a timeout. Instead, the executed play gave the Hornets a 30-20 lead and served as the turning point that gave the offense something to feed off, junior running back Amaru Major said.

“We kept going back and forth, and we knew we couldn’t get upset about that after the first half,” Major said. “We talked amongst ourselves during halftime and said we had to finish. We came back strong.”

Major rushed for two touchdowns and 208 yards on 22 carries. Just four minutes after Dixon’s score, he snagged an interception in the end zone and found the right side open to run the length of the field for the last Hornets touchdown of the game.

“I saw everyone going to the left, and I just knew I wasn’t going to let up until I scored,” Major said.

Major is a player that will “scratch and crawl” until he delivers what is asked of him, Harris Jr. said. His ability to outsprint anyone on the field and deftly zig-zag around the Pointers defense had the Surrattsville sideline — crowded with everyone from the marching band directors to the school principal to a troupe of assistant coaches in green-and-white rugby shirts — engaged until the last snap.

“This is awesome,” Dixon Jr. said of the school’s first regional title, which will bring the first football banner to the Surrattsville gym. “This is good for our school, our communities, our families — the whole Hornet nation.”