Facing a 20-17 deficit with 44 seconds remaining in the season opener at home against South River on September 4, the Broadneck football team didn’t panic.
Junior Chris Watts fielded a punt and bounced to the outside, where he sprinted to his own 42-yard line. On first down, the team’s new starting quarterback, senior Emmett Davis, sensed pressure and scrambled to his left, where he fired a 20-yard laser down the seam to senior Thorton Ferreira, who elevated to haul in the pass, knowing that three surrounding South River defenders would immediately converge and try to knock the ball loose. Ferreira was slammed to the grass, but he held on and Davis spiked the ball to stop the clock.
The Bruins now faced third down. This time, Davis scrambled right and lobbed a pass left into the arms of a wide open Ferreira. But there was one problem: a flag on the play for an illegal man downfield. Broadneck was pushed back.
After an incomplete pass on third down, Davis danced around the pocket and ran up the middle, where he was knocked down after a short gain as time expired.
That play sealed the 20-17 victory for the underdog Seahawks. The Bruins were visibly frustrated, and head coach Rob Harris addressed the team after the game. His message was clear: one game doesn’t define a season.
“We’ve got 10 more games,” Harris said after the contest in his inspired speech. “We’ve got nine more chances to fix this, so we can’t hang our heads over a loss. They beat us fair and square. They came out, put together a good game plan, they executed their game plan and it was better than ours evidently. So, our kids have to come back and work hard. And I’ll take this; [as] the coach, it’s on me. We have got to change the trajectory of the season.”
The thrilling matchup was chocked full of inconsistencies for both teams. A Broadneck fumble in the first quarter gave the ball to South River near midfield. After a string of minor gains, South River’s Donovan Boyce scored from one yard out on a quarterback keeper to put his team up 6-0. The Seahawks failed to convert the extra point.
But in the second quarter, the momentum changed. Broadneck linebacker Ali’i Niumatalolo and senior defensive back Juan McKinney broke up passes on consecutive plays to force a punt, and on the ensuing drive, Davis found Watts on a slant that went for 38 yards and a touchdown, giving the Bruins a 7-6 lead.
Later in the quarter, South River running back Brooks Watson added his own one-yard touchdown run up the gut to put his team ahead, 13-7. With 1:52 left in the half, Davis answered by engineering a masterful scoring drive. He flashed his exceptional speed and juked a defender for a big gain, and as the defense keyed in on him later in the drive, he ran left and pitched the ball to Watts, letting the agile wideout collect another first down. It was that connection – Davis to Watts – that put Broadneck back on top with a catch and run of 29 yards.
With the score at 14-13 at the half, the game had the makings of a shootout, but both teams reverted to their sloppy play from earlier in the game. On its first possession of the third quarter, Broadneck suffered a holding call, and Davis rifled a dangerous pass into traffic before it ultimately hit the ground.
Getting the ball back, South River didn’t fare much better, nearly fumbling, having a runner tackled by Niumatalolo and dropping a pass to signal another change in possession.
In the fourth quarter, Bruins senior linebacker Ryan Kennedy stripped the ball to give his team possession, but after a play in which Davis shifted left and right, juking several defenders on a big gain, he fumbled on the next down. The turnover didn’t cost Broadneck any points, however, and on the next possession, Davis led his team down the field and dazzled the crowd with a 30-yard scamper before consecutive false start penalties forced the Bruins to attempt a kick. With the successful field goal by Riley McNulty, the home team led 17-13, but the penalty proved to be a big one. It was one of many – along with holding, personal fouls, encroachment and unsportsmanlike conduct – that stymied the Bruins.
“We were undisciplined,” Harris said. “We made a lot of mental mistakes. A lot of penalties pulled back some big plays, but I’m not taking anything away from South River. They did a good job.”
With 4:45 left in the game, Broadneck needed only to hold off South River and run the clock down. The Bruins got a few stops, but then Watson took a screen pass and rumbled past midfield. A lob pass along the left sideline put the Seahawks inside the Bruins’ 15-yard line. Broadneck forced an incompletion and stuffed two running plays at the goal line to force fourth down, but Watson scored his second touchdown to clinch his team’s comeback. Watson finished the game with 113 yards.
Despite the loss, Broadneck had positive contributions from many players in addition to Watts – who nearly had a 100-yard receiving game – and Davis, who added 92 yards with his legs. Sophomore Taylor Bohanan rushed for 7 yards per carry, and the defense held Boyce to 58 passing yards. Niumatalolo had 15 tackles, Kennedy had 9.5 and junior linebacker George Shively finished with seven tackles.
With upcoming road games at Northeast on September 11 and Annapolis — which notched a surprise Week 1 win over Meade — on September 18 before big matchups against Meade, Arundel and Old Mill in October and a showdown with Severna Park on October 30, the team is determined to eliminate penalties and mistakes.
“We’ve got some good players,” Harris said after the loss to South River. “We just need to execute better. It’s a tough game. We’ll figure out what we gotta do.”