The anticipation of a new football season pulsed with excitement for Severna Park for the past several weeks.
It just couldn’t lead to a win on opening night.
Visiting North County made a couple big plays in timely moments and fended off Severna Park’s late comeback to emerge with a 13-6 win on Friday.
The Falcons produced a handful of positive moments and rallied from 13-0 down to give themselves a chance to steal the win late, but Severna Park nonetheless played inconsistently on the debut of varsity head coach Mike Wright.
“They did keep their heads in the game, and they didn’t panic,” said Wright of his players. “But we couldn’t get things together offensively enough to really help our defense out.”
The Knights took advantage of Severna Park’s eagerness right from the start. The Falcons were roped into an encroachment ploy on the first snap of the game, and they didn’t help themselves with two subsequent penalties to put the Knights into the red zone.
The Falcon D gathered itself, though, as Ty Broadway, Jordan Robinson, Kaleb Blackwell and Ben Morgan made key tackles to slow North County’s push. Bryce Marin came up with a third-down interception of North County quarterback John Hardcastle to snuff out the threat and keep the game scoreless.
The Falcon offense failed to complement the defense’s resolve as North County limited Severna Park to three-and-outs on its first two drives.
On a drive spanning the first and second quarters, the Knights took advantage of good starting field position and got gains on the ground by Hardcastle and running back Anthony Bedell to get down to within the Severna Park 10-yard line. Hardcastle kept and ran up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown to give North County a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Severna Park responded with a solid drive, getting running gains by Demetrius Powell, Wylen Tompkins and Colin Shadowens to pick up four first downs and get into the red zone. Fox’s first pass attempt came on fourth-and-goal, but his throw to Craig Johnson was batted down nicely by North County cornerback Derrick Shifflett for a turnover on downs.
Severna Park’s Gerard Green chased down Hardcastle for a sack to close the second quarter and prevent the Knights from inflicting any damage before halftime.
The Falcons had a chance to get back in the game after a North County miscue in the third quarter. The defense forced a North County punt, but a bad snap put the ball on the ground. Pat Fenn recovered for Severna Park, setting the team up in the red zone.
After a few running gains, Severna Park had the ball inside the 10-yard line, but a fumble gave the ball right back to the Knights.
The teams traded fruitless possessions to open the third quarter before the Knights struck again. The shifty and athletic Hardcastle scrambled away from pressure and made it to the left sideline, foiling the onrushing Severna Park linebackers by leaping and throwing from the air. His lofted pass found Kyle Silver, who ran untouched into the end zone. The point-after kick was no good, and North County led, 13-0.
Severna Park’s offense finally came to life late in the fourth quarter, as Fox found James Henson III for a passing gain, and Tompkins and Powell rushed for positive yards to get the Falcons deep into Knight’s territory. Fox capped the drive with a touchdown pass to Henson III, who evaded tacklers at the 5-yard line then bruised his way through contact at the goal line and into the end zone. The kick was no good, and Severna Park trailed 13-6 with 2:24 remaining.
The ensuing onside kick turned out perfectly for the Falcons, who recovered 45 yards away from the end zone with a chance to steal a game that North County had controlled all night.
They made a valiant attempt to get closer to the goal line, including a fourth-and-5 run by Tompkins for a first down that kept the drive alive. But North County’s defense held, and a fourth-and-6 scramble by Fox came up six inches short of a first down inside the North County 20-yard line. The Knights took over on downs, and Hardcastle took two knees to kill the clock and book the victory.
Wright said getting the offense going early will be key for the Falcons in future games.
“We came up with some inopportune penalties at the wrong time that we have to clean up, because we’re just not a come-from-behind team,” said Wright. “That’s a situation we’re not really built for. Credit to North County. They got in front of us, and we didn’t do anything to help ourselves.”
Matters won’t get any easier next week, when Severna Park travels to Arundel. The Wildcats fell to North Point 55-32 on Friday and reportedly lost their starting quarterback to injury.
Wright expressed optimism that sounder execution will come.
“We didn’t have our A+ game,” he said. “It was middle-of-the-road at best, probably below that, and it showed. So, we’ve just got to work on execution and go back to the things we know we can do, and get it cleaned up.”
JV Falcons Show Out
The Severna Park junior varsity team opened the afternoon by faring much better than their varsity counterparts eventually would, defeating North County 41-0.
Joey DeSimone led the offense with 15 carries for 96 yards, opening up the field for finisher LJ Cooper, who had four touchdowns on five carries. Quarterback Aidan Milewski rolled out for one pass and turned into a 70-yard scramble for a touchdown.
Sophomores Caleb Sartalamacchia, Ashton Ferrar-White, Omar White and Brayden Flynn led Severna Park’s young defense made up of seven freshman by shutting out North County and holding the Knights to just one first down.
Coach Sam Hudson expressed pride in the Falcons’ effort as well as appreciation for the help of assistant coaches Christian Bohanan, Jared Angerer and Mike Hudson.