Down 7-0 in the first quarter of its Maryland 4A East region semifinal game Friday night at No. 8 Arundel, Meade head coach Rich Holzer decided it was time to reach into his bag of tricks.

The second-year Mustangs head coach dialed up a double pass that worked to perfection when junior quarterback Tyree Turner found Meade’s other quarterback, Marcus Smith, streaking down the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7. From there Meade built a lead and held off a late Wildcat rally to earn a 36-28 win that extended, by at least one week, the Mustangs’ first playoff run since 2001.

The victory also allowed Meade to avenge its Sept. 14 loss against Arundel, when the Wildcats pounded the then-undefeated Mustangs at home, 40-8. This time, Holzer said, his team arrived in Gambrills with a different attitude.

“The big thing we told the kids is, ‘We’re the 4-seed in the playoffs. No one expects us to win. Go have fun,’” Holzer said. “We changed that attitude. Last time it was, ‘it’s Arundel, it’s the biggest game of the year. We got to get ‘em.’ This time we just said, ‘Hey, nobody expects us to win. Go have fun. We’re playing with house money. Go after it. Let it hang loose. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Just get after them.’”

The Mustangs leaned heavily on big plays both offensively and defensively to upset Arundel, scoring all but one of their touchdowns on plays of 20 yards or more and picking off Wildcat quarterbacks five times, a pair of which came from defensive back Korey Brooks. All 36 of Meade’s points came in the first half, forcing an Arundel team that beat its 10 regular-season opponents by an average of nearly 37 points to play nearly the entire game from behind.

“I think a lot of things are coming together for us now,” Holzer said. “A lot of these kids were not around in the old days when Meade used to lose these games and find a way to self-destruct in games like this. These kids weren’t there, weren’t on the team for these games. They don’t know any better. All they know is what we tell them. They really are buying into what we’re doing. They’ve done an outstanding job. They really are riding a wave right now, and it’s made them very dangerous and very tough right now.”

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