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  • Quarterback Garrett Edwards (2) celebrated a rushing touchdown in the second half of Severna Park's wild 49-48 win over North County on September 1.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    Quarterback Garrett Edwards (2) celebrated a rushing touchdown in the second half of Severna Park's wild 49-48 win over North County on September 1.

Falcon Football Wins Wild Opener Over North County, 49-48

Colin Murphy
View Bio
September 7, 2017

There might not be a football game all year that has wilder swings in momentum than the Severna Park-North County epic that unfolded on September 1.

The season-opener for both teams saw the Falcons rally from an early 13-point deficit, score 28 unanswered points to take a two-touchdown lead, give up 28 points in the fourth quarter, break a 42-42 tie with a 91-yard touchdown pass with under three minutes to play and block an extra-point attempt in the closing seconds to come out with a positively crazy 49-48 victory.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever played a game like that, such a turn of events,” said senior captain Jake Cooley. “We really rallied and came back. We stuck it to them at the end.”

Third-year head coach Will Bell was “worn out” after the three-hour-long contest ended but said he was proud of his team for weathering the game’s twists and turns to earn the win.

“We had some jitters early on,” said Bell, who had his team start 1-0 for the first time in his three years as head coach. “We had some penalties and things that killed our drive. Once we settled down, I think our kids took control of the game.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park football vs. North County, 9.1.17

SEE ALSO: Severna Park JV Football defeats North County 26-7

Host North County took advantage of Severna Park’s early hiccups, going ahead 6-0 on a touchdown run by Chris Leslie and 13-0 on a 51-yard touchdown pass from Deontez Parker to Jamare White.

The Falcons responded, as quarterback Garrett Edwards opened the second quarter with a long completion to receiver Josh Coffman, setting up a 2-yard quarterback keeper by Edwards for a touchdown.

Parker and White connected again on a 10-yard completion for a score to take a 20-7 lead, and it seemed like the night might belong to the Knights, but the tides rapidly turned. A botched punt gave Severna Park good field position, and the Falcons coolly executed a deceptive reverse to free Chase Cope for an 11-yard touchdown run to make it a 20-14 game. On the next possession, Edwards hit Cope down the right sideline for a 33-yard gain to the 2-yard line, and Joe Jennings bruised over the goal line for a score. Travis Victorio booted the extra point — Victorio was 7-for-7 on the night — to give Severna Park a 21-20 halftime lead.

Coffman uncorked a 45-yard punt return for a score in the third quarter, and senior defensive lineman Connor Becker killed North County’s ensuing possession with two sacks to give the Falcons good field position. Edwards and Coffman capitalized, connecting on a 25-yard touchdown pass on the Falcons’ next possession, and Severna Park had scored 28 straight points and led 35-20.

“The first quarter, we were nervous and expecting a really good team,” said Coffman, who complimented North County’s Parker and Leslie. “We needed to settle down and get a couple of drives under our belt. Once we did that, we felt like, ‘OK, we got this.’”

Video by Cameron Caouette

North County refused to go quietly, and the Knights made it 35-26 on an 11-yard touchdown run by Leslie. Drew Betch got it right back for the Falcons, breaking loose for a 39-yard run down to the 2-yard line, setting up a running score by Edwards and a 42-26 lead.

Still, North County fought. Parker hit White and William Roberts on touchdown passes, converting clutch 2-point conversions after both scores to improbably bring the Knights level at 42-42 with minutes to play.

After a strong North County kickoff pushed the Falcons way back to their own 9-yard line, the Falcons exploited one-on-one coverage on the outside. Coffman went deep, Edwards lofted a deep pass on the left sideline, and Coffman leaped to haul it in before turning on the jets down the sideline for a 91-yard touchdown and a 49-42 lead.

Said Bell, “The thought process on that play was, Josh came to me, it was a play we’d been working on and were going to save, but Josh said, ‘Do it now. I’ve got this.’ He put it on his back. Senior, captain, and it couldn’t have gone better.”

Coffman said the team executed the play perfectly.

“Coach Bell has that confidence in me,” he said. “My line, I could not have asked for better blocking. Garrett made a perfect throw. I just had to finish it.”

Amazingly, North County came back down the field and scored with 50 seconds remaining, as Parker finished a drive with a 10-yard run up the middle. Now trailing 49-48, the Knights needed just to kick an extra point to tie the game and force overtime, but Cooley broke through the line and got his arm in front of the kick.

“I saw a hole and I just got through it, threw my arm up, and it nailed me in the forearm,” Cooley said, his arm still showing the red outline of a ball. “I did my job.”

The Falcons were able to recover the ensuing kick and kneel twice to kill the clock.

Edwards finished with 236 yards passing with two passing touchdowns and two rushing scores.

Jennings led the defense with seven tackles, while Becker and Ryan Bloom each had five tackles and Becker had two sacks.

The win came as a huge confidence booster for a team coming off a 5-5 season a year ago but with a full offseason spent in the school’s new weight room and a fresh outlook for the year. The team plays Chesapeake in Week 2 before a rivalry showdown against a strong Broadneck team in Week 3.

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park football vs. North County, 9.1.17

SEE ALSO: Severna Park JV Football defeats North County 26-7

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