With only one previous win this season, it was imperative for the Severna Park football team to produce a strong performance for its homecoming matchup with Glen Burnie on October 18.
The Falcons did that and much, much more.
Severna Park used a relentless ground attack, game-breaking defense and 34 second-half points to deliver a 48-6 rout of the Gophers and a proud victory for homecoming. Wylen Tompkins gained 221 all-purpose yards, including 174 rushing yards on nine carries with two touchdowns, to lead Severna Park’s impressive all-around win. Touchdown runs by Demetrius Powell, Craig Johnson, Pat Fenn and Tommy Haskell — and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown by Ashton Antinucci — rounded out Severna Park’s scoring and helped the Falcons to their first home win in their final home game of 2019.
For a memorable night in what has at times been a trying season, everything clicked for Severna Park (2-5), said head coach Mike Wright.
“It’s been a challenge with wins and losses. I know the team knows, but I don’t think outsiders realize how close we are,” said Wright. “So with the adversity we’ve faced, the perseverance this team has is amazing.”
After senior football players and cheerleaders were introduced to the packed home crowd, Severna Park set about a three-hour playmaking boon that gave fans plenty to cheer. The Falcon defense forced a three-and-out on Glen Burnie’s opening drive, and junior defensive end Kaleb Blackwell capped the stance with the first of several big plays on the night by partially blocking the Gophers’ punt. With decent field position at their own 40-yard line, the Falcons’ second play from scrimmage was a handoff to Tompkins, who took a middle lane, stiff-armed a man in the secondary and dashed down the field for a 60-yard touchdown. Trey Smack converted his first of six extra points for a 7-0 Severna Park lead.
James Henson made a leaping interception for Severna Park on Glen Burnie’s next possession, but the Falcons couldn’t convert it to points before the Gophers scored on their next chance. The Falcon defense forced a missed point-after attempt to maintain a 7-6 lead.
In the second quarter, the Falcons put together a solid drive to get into scoring position, getting a completion from senior quarterback Casey Fox to Andre Murphy and several long runs by Tompkins. Glen Burnie made a stand and forced a field goal try, which was wide. The Falcon defense picked the team up, stopping Glen Burnie and forcing a punt. Again Blackwell swooped in for a block, and the ball came down to senior linebacker Pat Fenn. Fenn initially returned the ball 25 yards untouched for the score, but the touchdown was called back for a penalty. Severna Park nonetheless had good field position in Glen Burnie territory, and they capitalized with a 16-yard running score by Tompkins.
Tompkins, a senior, had his second consecutive monster game running the football. He rushed for a program-record 190 yards against South River on October 11, eclipsing Joe Jennings’ 2016 mark of 161 yards. Tompkins now has the top two rushing games in school history with 174 yards against the Gophers, and he praised the offensive linemen group of Dylan Smith, Nathan Brand, Jack Verde, Devin Kouns and Sean Kearney and fullback Craig Johnson for clearing the way for him to run.
“The offensive line held water today,” said Tompkins. “They were great. They opened up the run, and then when we did pass the ball, we were open. My line really stepped up tonight, and Craig Johnson in front of me at fullback, he’s a powerhouse. I enjoy running behind him. There were huge holes for me to run.”
An interception by Fenn before the end of the second quarter allowed for another long Tompkins run to get Severna Park inside the 5-yard line, but Severna Park’s rushing play with two seconds left failed, leaving the team with a 14-6 lead but no more going into halftime. Fenn had initially run the ball 60 yards back to get down to the goal line, but his return was again negated by a penalty, causing Severna Park to run out of time getting down the field.
It ended up not mattering, as Severna Park exploded for scores in the second half. On their opening drive, runs for first downs by Tompkins and Powell got the Falcons inside the 10, and Powell, a senior, scored on a 1-yard run to make it 21-6.
After Blackwell forced a fumble to get the ball back deep in Glen Burnie territory, the Falcons went ahead by three scores with a special punctuation mark. Johnson, a senior who has played on the offensive line, at tight end or on defense for the entirety of his playing days before switching to fullback this season, was given a handoff for a 2-yard rushing touchdown.
It was the first touchdown in Johnson’s 10-year football lifetime.
The Falcon seniors were positively giddy to get their teammate into the end zone, and coach Wright said, “I told you we would get you one!” to Johnson as they embraced after the game.
“Coach Wright told me I was going to get a touchdown,” said Johnson. “I didn’t even score when I was in Green Hornets. I always played line when I was little. Never in my life. That was my first one. The atmosphere tonight was awesome. It was crazy, especially to win by that much with all these guys here. It feels awesome.”
With the rout on, players got in the game and made their marks. Fox threw a perfect ball to Jeremy Simon in the right flat for a 36-yard gain. Already denied a touchdown and a long return, Fenn got into the end zone on a 1-yard carry for a 35-6 lead. Fox threw for 114 yards on 6-of-8 passing.
The Falcons weren’t finished, as Antinucci picked up a Glen Burnie fumble and ran it back 30 yards for a touchdown, one highlight of an overwhelming defensive performance. Fenn, Blackwell, Henson, Antinucci, Colin Shadowens, Braden Layne, Gerard Green, Jordan Robinson, Michael Sanders, Bryce Marin, Ben Morgan, JP Gothard, Sean Foreman, JacQuan Brooks, Trent Phillips and Matt Davies all made tackles for Severna Park, and the Falcon defense has been strong all season, said Tompkins and Fenn.
“Coach [Don] Linnell put together a great game plan for the defense,” said Tompkins. “He spends hours and hours on film and picks them apart until we know every little thing that’s going to happen.”
Fenn concurred, saying, “We know what they eat for breakfast.”
He said the defense clicked all night, and while he was happy to get himself a touchdown, he was most happy about getting everyone involved.
“We just worked really well together,” Fenn said. “We were reading the line, we were reading the quarterback, all doing what we were supposed to do, and it really came together this game, I’m really happy with it. Coach [Nick] Marks did a phenomenal job with the D-line…It was exhilarating, it was amazing, and honestly I was just more excited about getting everyone on the field tonight.”
Tommy Haskell put the final brushstroke on the game, taking a handoff and running 75 yards untouched for a score as time expired, ending the win at 48-6.
Wright said the starting offensive linemen group of Smith, Brand, Verde, Kouns and Kearney as well as contributors Colin Benedict, Koen Glick, AJ Jones, Jack Nelson, and Noah Pride and tight ends Chris Savani and Sean Foreman stepped up and allowed Severna Park to execute its running attack.
“This is only the second game in a row that this offensive line has played together, so it was really good to see that finally come together,” Wright said. “Those guys don’t get a lot of credit and they’ve really struggled at times throughout the year because of all the injuries and the pieces we’re putting together, but two games in a row, even though we lost to South River, we’ve sustained some drives, and I’m just really proud of that group for holding it together.”
He wasn’t overlooking another strong defensive performance for the Falcons.
“The defense is always lights out,” Wright said.
With a berth in the eight-team region playoffs still possible, Wright said the team needs to continue focusing on getting better each day.
But the players naturally enjoyed the moment. It was the first home win of the year in the team’s final home game, and Fox described it as a memorable sendoff for the Falcon seniors.
“There’s nothing like winning in the final home football game of your career,” said Fox. “[The seniors] are not going to play probably another home football game ever, so winning 48-6 on our home field with our student section cheering like they did, it’s the greatest feeling.”
-Through seven games, Tompkins has 668 yards rushing on 115 carries with four touchdowns in addition to 12 catches for 175 yards and one touchdown receiving.
-Fenn has 60 total tackles on the season along with one interception and two sacks, plus seven tackles for losses. He set a single-game SPHS record with 15 total tackles in the team’s October 11 loss to South River, eclipsing the previous record of 12.5 held by Kyle Lowman (SPHS ’17).
-The Falcons did not slow down after their win over Glen Burnie. Severna Park’s defense played an outstanding game in a 7-0 over Annapolis on October 25.
It was Severna Park’s first victory over Annapolis since 2013 and improved the Falcons to 3-5 overall. With the win, Severna Park held on to the eighth and final playoff position in the 4A East with one game remaining on the schedule.
With the Severna Park boys soccer team having bounced Annapolis from the 4A playoffs on the neighboring field mere hours earlier, Severna Park’s football team likewise went about producing a victory on the Panthers’ home turf. Demetrius Powell ran for 55 yards on nine carries, and Wylen Tompkins picked up 47 yards on 14 carries. James Henson (six solo tackles, four assisted), Patt Fenn (five and five), Jordan Robinson (five and four), Brett Butz (three and two), Jacob Russell (two and three), Ben Morgan (two and three), Kaleb Blackwell (two and two) and Tompkins (two solo) all made big plays for the Severna Park defense. Corey Bodnar had an interception, and Colin Shadowens had a blocked punt.
Quarterback Casey Fox scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with six minutes left in the game after a long run by Powell down to the goal line to give Severna Park the win.
“Great game plan and prep by our defensive coaches [Don] Linnell, [Nick] Marks and [Andrew] Gardner this week and all season,” said Severna Park head coach Mike Wright. “And outstanding performance by the players, especially since more players than we typically have played on both sides of the ball because of some key injuries. Everyone stepped it up. Wylen Tompkins had to fill in on defense and caused a forced fumble and recovered it, meanwhile Patrick Fenn and Ben Morgan still piled up tackles while having to pull double duty at fullback due to offensive injury. Demetrius Powell coming back from injury really stepped up at key moments running the ball on offense [and] gave Tompkins the ability to help out on defense. A great win for this team when they knew the ramifications and needed it most.”
The win keeps Severna Park in playoff contention in the 4A East. The Falcons play at Southern on November 2 and can likely clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Bulldogs. Severna Park has not made the playoffs since 2008.