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