Playoff-bound Eagles score late, sink Mariners
Special to the Whig
With his team
trailing visiting Joppatowne by a point late in the fourth quarter, Bohemia Manor head coach Joe Graf put Johnny Knight in at quarterback to provide a spark and a play- making threat.
Knight directed a 14-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in the quarterback finding the end zone on a 1-yard scamper with 17 seconds left to give the Eagles the lead. Silas Whittington sealed the victory with an interception on the final play of the game to give Bo Manor a 19-14 regular-season-ending victory over the Mariners in Susquehanna Division football action on Friday.
The victory, coupled with a loss by Cambridge-SD, allowed the Eagles to take over the top seed in the 1A East Region playoffs. They will host fourth-seeded Kent County next weekend.
“He’s just a ball player. We wanted to try to get the ball into his hands. We had to make an adjustment to swing momentum and get some- thing going offensively, and we did,” Graf said. “He’s the ultimate team player. He does what we ask. The ball has to be in his hands whether it’s running, throwing or catching.”
The go-ahead drive started at the Eagles’ 25 with 4:52 left in the fourth quarter. On the fourth play of the series, Knight kept the drive alive with a 6-yard run on fourth-and-4 at the 31. He then followed that with completions to Tyeler Buchanan and Jiaire Caldwell moved the ball into Joppatowne territory.
A pass interference and a facemask penalty then moved the ball to the Mariners’ 12, and Whittington followed with a 9-yard run that moved the ball to the 3-yard line. Knight proceed to pick up the first down with a 1-yard rush, and, after he was stuffed on first down, scored to give Bo Manor the lead with 19 seconds remaining.
“Basically, my mindset was to do my job and make plays to win the game,” Knight said. “I just followed the big men up front. They did the whole work for me.”
Whittington picked off Thomas Michalik’s desperation heave on the final play to deliver the Eagles (7-3 overall, 5-2 division) a hardfought victory.
Bo Manor appeared as if it would win comfortably following a dominant first quarter in which it took a 13-0 lead thanks to a 2-yard touchdown run from Devin Gatewood and an 18-yard touchdown connection from Ryan Connolley to Gatewood.
Gatewood credited his teammates for putting him in position to score twice in the opening frame.
“I would not have been able to get those scores without my team,” Gatewood said. “My O-line stepped up. Our left side wasn’t there [due to injury]. Guys that never played stepped up.”
The Mariners responded with a dominant second quarter in which they scored 14 unanswered points to take the lead. The first score came on a Michael Smith 1-yard touchdown run, which was followed by a successful 2-point conversion on a Michalik pass to Jordan Meads.
The Eagles then drove deep into enemy territory, but an Asaad Brown 80-yard interception return set up a 10-yard Michalik touchdown run that gave the Mariners a 14-13 advantage.