Both games came down to the wire as the West and North prevail (VIDEO INTERVIEWS HERE)
The 21st annual Baltimore Touchdown Club All-Star Classic lived up to its name and then some. In fact, the fans who braved the frigid temperatures on Saturday at Archbishop Spalding High School’s Whittles Field got two classics for the price of one as both contests went down to the wire.
In the opening game, the West jumped out to a big early lead and held off a late rally by the East to prevail, 24-17. The nightcap was even more exciting, as the North topped the South, 19-18 in overtime.
In it’s victory, the West got three huge plays, one each from the offense, defense and special teams to score three first half touchdowns, which ultimately held up for the victory.
After the West missed a field goal attempt on the game’s first possession, its defense was battling to halt a drive by the East, from its own 20 to inside the West 30. On a fourth-and-11 play from the West 28, East quarterback Darrius Sample of Dundalk was intercepted by Thomas Johnson’s Jason Swann, Jr. at the 15 yard line. Swann worked his way laterally towards the right sideline and suddenly found a wall blockers and nothing but daylight in front of him, as he cruised the distance for an 85-yard pick six. The extra-point attempt failed and the West led 6-0.
The West struck again on the first play of the second quarter as Tuscarora wideout Cortee Williams went in motion to his left and received an inside handoff out of the shotgun formation. Williams raced around the left end and blazed up the sideline for 75-yard touchdown run. Williams’ Tuscarora teammate Rodney Dorsey ran for the two-point conversion and the West lead grew to 14-0.
Later in the quarter, the game’s MVP Percy Agyei-Obese went into action. With the East backed up to its own one and attempting to punt from the back of the end zone, Agyei-Obese crashed through the line and blocked the kick of Eastern Tech’s Gavin Locklear. The ball skidded to the left side of the end zone, sending bodies from both squads diving for the recovery. When the pile cleared South Hagerstown’s Lincoln Ikwubuo had the ball and a West touchdown, which stretched its lead to 21-0.
Facing a huge mountain of a deficit, the East did the only thing it could; it began to climb.
Getting the ball back with a little more than five minutes to play in the opening half, the East began its next possession at its own 25. With Reginald Lewis quarterback Daruin Miller leading the march, the East moved all the way down to the West five-yard line, where it faced a fourth-and-five with 58-seconds play.
Despite being down three scores, East head coach Sean Murphy of Archbishop Curley elected to build some momentum with some points, and sent out Perry Hall’s Nick Starostenko to kick a 25-yard field goal. Starostenko converted and the East was on the board, as the West took a 21-3 lead at the half.
Early in the third quarter, the West countered with a 29-yard field goal from Matthew Shoenberg of Centennial to take the lead back to 21, at 24-3, but the East was about to make things very interesting.
After the kickoff, the East put together the best offensive drive of the game, by either team, going 73 yards in 13 plays, with Curley’s Tyrone Ropper leaping over the pile to score from one-yard out, giving the East its first touchdown, as it trailed 21-10 with 2 minutes, 7 seconds to go in the third quarter.
The East had Starostenko attempt an on-side kick, but Greg Benton of Long Reach was able to secure the ball for his side, give the West the ball right at midfield. Looking for what might have been a clinching score, coach Jerry Smith of Thomas Johnson elected to have quarterback Eric Cox, also of TJ, throw downfield. Unfortunately for Cox, the ball sailed high and East linebacker Jake Schneider made an outstanding one-handed snatch for an interception, which he returned 42 yards to the West 10-yard line.
On the second play of the series, which was the first play of the fourth quarter, Sample scrambled to his right, pulled the ball down and weaved his way through the defense for a 10-yard touchdown run, cutting the West lead to 24-17, with the extra point.
The next four possessions saw the West punt twice and the East turn the ball over on downs twice. The second one gave the ball back to the West with just 2:21 to play. Instead of running out the clock, however, the West botched the handoff on the first snap of the drive and the ball fell to the turf where it was recovered by Eastern Tech’s Brandon Thomas for the East, giving his team one final opportunity.
With time running down for the East, Sample attempted to throw a screen pass out to his left. Agyei-Obese, however, sniffed the play out from the start, breaking on the ball and intercepting the pass, sealing the victory and his MVP award.
“I definitely came into the game wanting to see where I am against other great players. It was an amazing experience,” said Agyei-Obese, who will play next year at James Madison University. “I loved the game, every second of it. The team was great. Everyone on the team, they showed out. It was a lot of fun.”
The nightcap had it all, especially with huge emotional swings late in the game, before being decided in overtime.
The North had possession first in the the overtime and scored on a 2-yard run by McDonogh’s Mylique McGriff, his third touchdown of the night. With a successful extra-point kick by Westminster’s Ian Gould, the North took a 19-12 lead.
Before the South took its first overtime snap, the North gave them five yards by having too many men on the field. From the five, the first play was handed off to Old Mill running back Sirus Gay and he went right up the gut for the touchdown. At that point, head coach Rob Harris of Broadneck went for the win, attempting a two point conversion pass which fell incomplete, allowing the North to escape with the win.
The North also dodged a bullet, if not a rocket, on a final play of regulation. Having seen its 12-0 lead evaporate in the fourth quarter, the North was its own 43 with just five seconds to play.
With Mount St. Joseph quarterback Christian Carter at the helm, he overthrew a receiver in the left flat and it sailed right into the arms of Archbishop Spalding linebacker Corey Gaines. Gaines sprinted down the right sideline to what might have been a dream walk-off pick six on his home turf. As he approached the goal line he was dragged down from behind as he tumbled into the end zone, as the clock expired. After a lengthy discussion, the officials ruled that he was down in the field of play, just inside the one-yard line.
The South’s first score came with 5:38 left in the fourth quarter as Williams rushed for a touchdown from 2-yards out. Williams, who played the entire second half after Spalding’s Evan Fochtman left the game with an injury, and his score came at the end of a 10-play 55-yard drive. The extra-point attempt was blocked.
The South followed with a successful on-sides kick that was recovered by Old Mill’s Jamal Bodau at the South 48. Again, Williams led a scoring drive, getting the South back in the end zone with a 23-yard scoring pass to Broadneck’s Robert Schwob. With the game tied, the South went for two and the pass failed, leaving the game tied.
After a scoreless first quarter, the North broke on top with a 1-yard TD run by McGriff. The extra-point kick failed. Then, with just 50-seconds left in the second quarter, McGriff burst off tackle and broke into daylight for a 53-yard touchdown run. The pass attempt failed.
“It was so much fun. I liked competing with those guys,” said McGriff. “It’s an honor to play in this game. I’m just happy we came out with a W.”
21st ANNUAL BALTIMORE TOUCHDOWN CLUB ALL-STAR CLASSIC (at Archbishop Spalding)
WEST 24, EAST 17 E 0 3 7 7 — 17 W 6 15 3 0 — 24
1ST QUARTER W - Jason Swann, Jr. (Thomas Johnson) 85 interception return (kick failed)
2ND QUARTER W - Cortee Williams (Tuscarora) 75 run (Rodney Dorsey (Tuscarora) run) W - Lincoln Ikwubo (South Hagerstown) rec. blocked punt in end zone (Matt Shoenberger (Centennial) kick) E - Nick Starostenko (Perry Hall) 25 FG
3RD QUARTER W - Shoenberger 29 FG E - Tyrone Ropper (Archbishop Curley) 1 run (Starostenko kick) E - Darrius Sample 10 run (Starostenko kick)
NORTH 19, SOUTH 18, OT N 0 6 6 0 - 7 — 19 S 0 0 0 12 - 6 — 18
2ND QUARTER N - Mylique McGriff (McDonogh) 1 run (kick failed)
3RD QUARTER N - McGriff 53 run (pass failed)
4TH QUARTER S - Justin Williams (Annapolis) 2 run (kick blocked) S - Robert Schwob (Broadneck) 23 pass from Williams (pass failed)
OVERTIME N - McGriff 2 run (Ian Gould (Westminster) kick) S - Sirus Gay (Old Mill) 5 run (pass failed)