Edmondson defense a little bit better in win over Owls
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 17:55

Pick-six decides defensive battle


by Bill Gates

    Moral victory? No such thing.
    “This one wasn’t supposed to go this way,” Dundalk junior running back Sayquan Norman said after the Owls lost to top-seeded Edmondson 12-6 on Saturday in the Class 2A North regional championship game at Polytechnic High.
    “We’re supposed to be practicing this week,” Norman said. “We’re supposed to be going to M&T Bank stadium the week after this. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.”
    Conventional wisdom may have had the Owls (9-3) as heavy underdogs to the defending regional champion Red Storm (11-1 and ranked 11th in the Baltimore metro area by The Sun), but there was little difference between the two teams as they engaged in an old-school defensive struggle.

    Fittingly, it was a defensive play which decided the game.
    Edmondson’s Marcellus Pack returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown with 8:53 remaining in the game to break a 6-6 tie.
    “The pick-six hurt us, but it never should have gotten to that point,” Dundalk coach Sean Sandura said. “People didn’t give us credit, thought it would be a blowout. But we took the fight to them.
    “Besides that one little drive, for the most part it’s a different game. They made a play on defense.”
    That “one little drive” by Edmondson came early in the third quarter with the Owls leading 6-0.

The Red Storm took over at the Dundalk 31-yard line after the Owls were forced to punt from their own end zone.

    Edmondson scored in two plays, on an 18-yard run by Eric Tate around the right side.
    That 31-yard drive was the longest of the game for the Red Storm.
    Only twice did Edmondson drive into Dundalk territory after starting on its own side of the 50-yard line: as time expired in the first half, and with the help of a 15-yard penalty against the Owls in the third quarter.
    The Red Storm didn’t take a single snap on Dundalk’s side of the field in the first half, and had only 13 for the game.
    All but two of those snaps came when Edmondson started a drive with the ball already in Dundalk territory.
    The Owls spent most of the first half on Edmondson’s side of the field, but couldn’t capitalize on the field position.
    That was due in no small part to the Red Storm defense and its propensity to consistently make critical stops.
    Dundalk drove from its 30 to a first down at the Edmondson 37-yard line on its first possession of the game, only to lose one yard on the next three plays and punt.    
    The Owls had a first down at the Edmondson 31-yard line on their next possession, but lost seven yards on a first-down running play and ended up turning the ball over on downs at the Red Storm 26.
    Dundalk drove from its 37 to the Edmondson 30 in the second quarter but was pushed back to the Red Storm 44 by a questionable offensive pass interference penalty.
    A muffed punt by Edmondson gave Dundalk the ball at the Red Storm 18, but the Owls went nowhere with three incompletions and a sack.
    But, when Owl junior Dalonte Jennings returned the second half kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, it looked like the spark Dundalk needed.
    The Owls’ kickoff return unit cleared a huge hole in the middle for Jennings.
    “I saw the whole field, and no one was in front of me,” Jennings said. “I just took it up the middle and scored.”
    On Edmondson’s ensuing possession, the Owls forced a fumble and recovered it at the Red Storm 49-yard line.
    But Dundalk was called for a personal foul, helmet-to-helmet contact, and Edmondson retained possession.
    The Red Storm eventually punted, but the extra yardage from the penalty — not to mention retaining possession — allowed them to pin the Owls at their own three-yard line.
    That set up the sequence leading to Edmondson’s tying touchdown.
    “We recover that fumble, we have the momentum, we probably drive down the field and score,” Sandura said. “What can you do? It’s football. We should have had them earlier in the game, but didn’t capitalize.”
    Dundalk finished with 119 yards of total offense and 11 first downs.
    Norman rushed for 50 yards, while Davon Ingram threw for 61 yards. He was intercepted twice.
    Edmondson rushed for 115 yards — 56 yards coming on three carries — and passed for 50 yards.
    The Red Storm had nine first downs. Both teams punted seven times.
    “I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” Sandora said. “They sacrificed for one another and to be part of something bigger than the accolades.”