After a big punt block set Broadneck up deep in Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. territory with a chance to halve a halftime deficit in Friday’s 4A state championship football game, the offense stalled inside the 10-yard line and a short field goal attempt drifted wide right.
Moments later, Wise went the other way and punched in their third touchdown of the night, every play of the drive a run.
It was that kind of night for the Bruins. Every time it looked like things were turning in Broadneck’s favor, something bad soon followed.
The Bruins never really found their rhythm offensively, the stubborn defense finally was worn down after a grueling playoff run, the penalties stacked up, and Broadneck’s bid for a first state title fell short, falling 21-0 at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.
“We wish we could have started faster, but they did a great job in field position and using their line to lean on us,” said Broadneck head coach Rob Harris. “One less first down and we aren’t starting (a possession) at the 1. Another return, two penalties and we’re back to the 3. We didn’t even get a chance to run our opening plays until the second quarter because we were so backed up and didn’t want to throw. That eats at you a little bit, but … credit to them.”
After raising eyebrows by dispatching both Montgomery County teams on the road in the first two rounds, Broadneck tried to muster up one more surprise against Wise in the state championship. But the well was dry at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The bend-don’t-break Bruins defense, which carried the team through the regional and state playoff rounds, largely did their job. But Wise wore them down and continued to pound the running game play after play after play.
“We keep our heads high until the very end. I feel like that’s been our mentality all season,” said senior linebacker Jed Pellicano, who anchored the heart and soul of an intense, physical defense that became Broadneck’s calling card down the stretch. “Even if we’re down 56, we keep our heads high and we keep fighting. It’s hard, but that’s been our story the entire season. We all bring that source of energy. Regardless of the drives and how long they are, we bring energy to keep our heads high and to keep pushing.”
Perhaps more critically, Wise didn’t turn the ball over, which blunted an opportunistic defense that had forced three turnovers in each of the last two games.
Special teams gave Broadneck some hope, with a 24-yard punt return from Eli Harris late in the first half and the punt block from Tyrin Chinn-Thompson early in the second, but the Wise defense stiffened each time and kept the Bruins out of the end zone on both occasions.
It wasn’t until Wise led 21-0 that the Bruins put together a sustained drive, but that ended with the Pumas intercepting Watkins for the third time.
“We were missing things just by a few inches. I had a catch in the corner (of the end zone) and it misses by a foot,” said Eli Harris. “It’s a game of inches, and unfortunately we were on the wrong side of it.”
The Bruins will have to settle, as it were, for being the second team from Broadneck to make the state finals, joining the 2003 team that also came up achingly short of putting the first football championship trophy in the school’s cabinet. But no team has gone further than this one, and there were indelible moments made that will live long in the memory banks.
Read the full story in the next edition of the Severna Park Voice, in homes December 7.
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