No. 14 Here­ford sur­vives Over­lea, 14-12, ends long play­off rut

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Rich Scherr

The script for the Here­ford foot­ball team had re­mained eerily sim­i­lar in re­cent years: Dom­i­nate the reg­u­lar sea­son, se­cure a cov­eted spot in the state play­offs and … bow out qui­etly. That is, un­til Fri­day night. Min­utes af­ter run­ning back Kahlil Rich was taken off the field by am­bu­lance af­ter what was ruled to be an il­le­gal hit, team­mate Michael Cot­terino scored on a 10-yard run around the left side with 3:34 to play, as the host No. 14 Bulls ral­lied for two unan­swered touch­downs in a14-12 win over Bal­ti­more County ri­val Over­lea in the Class 2A North re­gion semi­fi­nals.

“We just ral­lied the troops and said, ‘This is it. This is all or noth­ing right now. Leave it all on the field,’ ” Here­ford coach Ric Evans said. “We said last night at a team din­ner, if some­thing hap­pens, next man up. I know that’s cliche and ev­ery­body says it, but that’s how it was for us tonight. That’s what we needed from our guys.”

Fresh off their first per­fect reg­u­lar sea­son since 2007, the Bulls (11-0) now move on to next week­end’s re­gional fi­nal, where they will face the win­ner of to­day’s game be­tween Dun­bar and Ran­dall­stown. Here­ford will host that game Fri­day.

Its win marks the first time since 2009 that the Bulls have ad­vanced past the first round, break­ing a four-game post­sea­son los­ing streak.

Af­ter a score­less first half, Over­lea built a 12-0 lead on third-quar­ter touch­down runs of 75 and 35 yards by By­ron Staten.

Down 12-7, Here­ford took pos­ses­sion at its own 36-yard line af­ter a punt, then got a huge break on a fourth-and-33 from its 13, when a rough­ing-the-punter call re­sulted in an au­to­matic first down.

Three plays later, the game was halted when an il­le­gal hit at the end of a run left Rich mo­tion­less near mid­field. Play was stopped for sev­eral min­utes while para- medics at­tended to Rich, whowas taken to a hos­pi­tal, his head and neck sta­bi­lized.

He was mov­ing his limbs as he was wheeled off the field.

Once play re­sumed about 25 min­utes later, the Bulls drove the fi­nal 40 yards, all on the ground, capped by Cot­terino’s score.

“We were just push­ing through for Kahlil,” Cot­terino said. “We were just us­ing all of our strength to get those points on the board.”

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