Storm ground Fal­cons

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY FOOTBALL - By Kather­ine Dunn kather­ine.dunn@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/ kdunnsun

Regi­nald Lewis’ foot­ball team went into Fri­day night’s Class 1A South re­gion cham­pi­onship with an 11-0 record, but Ed­mond­son’s sub-.500 team went in with a lot more play­off ex­pe­ri­ence and it showed.

Quar­ter­back Teon Gard­ner threw for three touch­downs and ran for one as the Red Storm used a 24-point fourth quar­ter to put away feisty Regi­nald Lewis, 40-20, at Poly to ad­vance to the state semi­fi­nals for the first time since 2012.

Even though no one on this Ed­mond­son team has won a re­gion cham­pi­onship, the Red Storm has been in the re­gion fi­nal for four straight years.

This fall the Red Storm lost to tough out-of-divi­sion teams such as Loy­ola Blake­field and Arch­bishop Cur­ley, but they were also the only Baltimore City team to beat Divi­sion I cham­pion Mervo. While Lewis went 10-0 dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son and won the first play­off game in school his­tory in the re­gion semi­fi­nals, Ed­mond­son coach Corey John­son thought the tougher com­pe­ti­tion and his team’s play­off ex­pe­ri­ence would play in their fa­vor.

“We were con­fi­dent,” said John­son, whose team scored more points on the Fal­cons than they had al­lowed in their first 11 games com­bined.

“The guys re­ally played out of their minds. We had a lot of guys step up and make big plays and that comes from se­niors. ”

The Red Storm (6-6) will play at Havre de Grace in their state semi­fi­nal game next week. The four ad­vanc­ing teams were re­seeded for the semi­fi­nals based on their sea­son points av­er­ages, but the champions in at least two other re­gions had higher points av­er­ages than Ed­mond­son, send­ing the Red Storm on the road.

State champions in 2006, Ed­mond­son is in the state semi­fi­nals for the sev­enth time in school his­tory.

The Fal­cons (11-1) struck first Fri­day when run­ning back Al­fonzo Gra­ham raced 45 yards for the first of his three touch­downs on their first pos­ses­sion. The Red Storm had the ball first, but a snap over Gard­ner’s head re­sulted in a turnover when Mar­tise Cham­bers re­cov­ered the ball.

The lead lasted a lit­tle over three min­utes un­til Gard­ner threw his first touch­down pass, 13 yards to Aaron ClarkeWil­liams. Gard­ner’s con­ver­sion run gave Ed­mond­son an 8-6 lead with 7:22 left in the quar­ter and the Red Storm would lead the rest of the game against a Fal­cons squad that had given up just 24 points all sea­son.

In the sec­ond quar­ter, Gard­ner hit Cam­eran Ed­wards with an 8-yard touch­down pass and the two con­nected on the con­ver­sion pass. Less than a minute later, Gra­ham scored on a 20-yard run. Ev­ery­one stopped af­ter he gained about 10 yards in a crowd, but there was no whis­tle and Gra­ham ran the fi­nal yards un­touched to pull within 16-14 at the half.

“What’s scary about it is he has such great ath­letes — like [Gra­ham] — they were elec­tri­fy­ing,” John­son said. “You sit in the stands and scout­ing you don’t see it, but on the field they were just mak­ing moves, so I knew we needed to get a cush­ion.”

Nei­ther team scored in the third quar­ter and early in the fourth, the Red Storm turned the ball over on Lewis’ 2-yard line. Ed­mond­son ended up with a safety when Don­aye Belle tack­led the Fal­cons’ Shamal Webb in the end zone.

Gard­ner then added an 11-yard touch­down run to push the lead to 26-14, but Gra­ham pulled the Fal­cons within six on a 4-yard run set up by quar­ter­back Dar­iun Miller’s 37-yard pass to Ken­dall Wag­ner.

Then ev­ery­thing fell apart for the Fal­cons.

Ed­mond­son’s Kelly Rich­burg re­cov­ered the on­side kick at Lewis’ 47-yard line and two plays later, Gard­ner hit De­shawn Ruf­fin with a 61-yard touch­down pass. Gard­ner ran the con­ver­sion for a 34-20 lead with 3:44 to go.

On Lewis’ next drive, Belle sacked Miller on third down and when Miller went for the long pass on fourth down, Shamar Barnes in­ter­cepted for the sec­ond time in the game and ran it 56 yards for the touch­down with 2:37 left.

KARL MER­TON FERRON/BALTIMORE SUN

Ed­mond­son quar­ter­back Teon Gard­ner cel­e­brates a 61-yard touch­down pass to De­shawn Ruf­fin that sealed the vic­tory.

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