Defense, Flosser’s offensive explosion key in Warriors win
— Having clinched home field advantage throughout the 1A North Region playoffs, Havre de Grace began its quest Friday toward a second consecutive state final apperance.
The top-seeded Warriors narrowly escaped a major upset as they dialed up a key goal-line stand late in the third quarter and then exploded for 18 unanswered points en route to a 48-34 win over visiting No. 4 Fairmont Heights in the region semifinals.
“I’m very impressed,” Havre de Grace head coach Brian Eberhardt said of his team’s come-from-behind victory. “For us to face that deficit and be able to overcome that, hopefully it gives us some momentum that we can carry into our next game. We can’t let ourselves get into a situation like that again. We’re going to keep facing better and better teams, and you can’t always come back from a deficit like that.”
With 7:29 remaining in the third quarter, Havre de Grace senior quarterback Mike Flosser found William Ashman for a 47-yard touchdown that cut the deficit to 34-30. The Warriors’ defense then made its mark on the game and kept momentum on its side by standing tall and forcing a turnover-on-downs late in the game at its own 1-yard line.
“That [goal-line stand] really did [change the complexion of the game],” Eberhardt said of his defense, anchored by junior Sean Greeley. “We asked our guys to dig in and we felt like we’d be able to score again if we could get them off the field. We really needed the guys to stick their heels in the ground, and we were able to come up with a big stop.”
Flosser would then put his Warriors (8-2) ahead for good after he found his trusted receiver Jordan Day on an 80-yard touchdown strike that gave his team a 37-34 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Day is a great athlete,” Flosser said of his junior receiver, who racked up 218 receiving yards and three touchdowns on eight receptions. “He knows how to get up and get the ball, he can track the ball well and I have full trust in him.”
Havre de Grace pulled away and capped the thrilling victory by turning the next two unsuccessful Hornets possessions into 11 points.
Junior kicker Clay Harris knocked a 36-yard field goal through the uprights, before running back Jasai Stansbury (16 carries for 67 yards) found the end zone on a 12-yard run.
Flosser then found receiver Kenneth Sumpter in the corner of the end zone for the 2-point conversion.
“It was a great team performance,” Flosser said of his teammates. “Some guys were down [early in the game] but the rest of the team really brought them up. Jordan Day is a great captain and he really kept us up. I owe it to the coaches, they never stopped pushing us to be the best we could be.”
Flosser (21 completions for 343 yards and four touchdowns) made sure to credit Fairmont Heights on its performance.
“It’s not easy to make the playoffs and we all know they played a tough schedule in PG [Prince George’s] County. You can’t overlook anybody,” the quarterback said. “We were expecting a good game and they gave us everything they had. We took too much of a break in practice [this past week], and we need to practice harder [moving forward].”
Eberhardt echoed his quarterback’s statement.
“We’ve been playing tough in the second half of football games all year. You can throw records out the window right now [in the playoffs],” he said. “They’ve [Fairmont Heights] played some tough, tough games this year and they are a good football team. We survive and move on.”
The contest began with fireworks.
The Warriors found themselves ahead 7-6 in an early back-and-forth contest when Flosser answered a 61-yard rushing touchdown by Hornets running back Colby James with a 2-yard rushing touchdown to finish a 47yard drive.
Harris, who has become a weapon for Havre de Grace, compiled three touchbacks on kickoffs and contributed 10 points on the evening (4-for-5 PAT, 2-for 2 on field goals). He would make Fairmont Heights pay for a fumble at midfield by converting a 37-yard field goal that put the Warriors ahead 10-6.
Havre de Grace then answered a 74-yard rushing touchdown by Hornets running back Francis Wills when Flosser found Day for touchdown passes of 73 and 16 yards, respectively, in the second quarter to pull the Warriors back in front, 2314.
Fairmont Heights (3-8) finished the first half with a 26-23 lead after it caught the Warriors off guard with a trick-play pass from halfback Wills to receiver Vincent Lockard that went for a 72-yard touchdown. The score proceeded a 2-yard touchdown by James with four seconds remaining.
The fireworks would carry over to the second half as Wills scored on a 12-yard touchdown run before the Warriors stormed back behind the arm of Flosser.
“Mike has been here before,” Eberhardt said of his quarterback. “As a senior quarterback, he’s been through the playoffs, which is big to have, and Jordan Day is really starting to hit his stride. I need to give credit to our offensive coaches and our offensive coordinator Andy Downs, who comes up with some great game plans for those guys and does a great job.”
Havre de Grace advances to next weekend’s region final, where it will host second-seeded Surrattsville, which defeated No. 3 McDonough on Friday, 20-16.