AACS erases 20-point deficit

Ea­gles up­end Con­cor­dia for MIAA C crown; Spald­ing tops Riverdale Bap­tist

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

Ex­pect to win. Ad­just to ad­ver­sity. Be pre­pared. The An­napo­lis Area Chris­tian School foot­ball team has built their pro­gram around those mot­tos.

Even trail­ing by 20 points to a team they had lost to twice in the sea­son, one that was run­ning all over them as they made mis­take af­ter mis­take, the Ea­gles didn’t forget their lessons.

And af­ter see­ing the Con­cor­dia team danc­ing and laugh­ing at the half, the AACS squad used that lack of re­spect to find added inspiratio­n.

The re­sult: a sec­ond-half come­back that gave the Ea­gles an in­cred­i­ble 21-20 win and their sec­ond straight MIAA C Con­fer­ence ti­tle.

“We fought through ad­ver­sity. We saw them danc­ing on the side­lines at half­time, and felt we had to do some­thing about it. I thought it was dis­re­spect­ful,” said Tay­lor He­flin, whose two in­ter­cep­tions halted Con­cor­dia drives, the sec­ond at his own five-yard line to be­gin the the win­ning scor­ing drive.

To open the sec­ond half, the Ea­gles drove 74 yards on 21 plays plus four Con­cor­dia penal­ties, us­ing nine min­utes of the clock to score on a 1-yard run by Ryan Idle­man.

Af­ter their de­fense held, Idle­man tossed a short screen pass to Sam Ak­in­mukomi, who picked up blocks from his team­mates, then out­sprinted Con­cor­dia de­fend­ers for a score that made it 20-13. A trick play on the two-point con­ver­sion play worked when Idle­man hit Joey Dixon, who lined up at cen­ter sep­a­rate from the rest of the team, as an el­i­gi­ble re­ceiver. Ear­lier in the game, the two teamed up on a fake punt for a first down.

“That was a big play be­cause it meant we only needed a touch­down to win, no ex­tra point, no ad­di­tional kick, we were within six,” said Idle­man, who on the next drive would team up with Dixon for the gamewin­ning touch­down.

The win­ning score came with 2:35 to play and capped a 12-play, 95-yard drive that started af­ter He­flin’s sec­ond touch­down. In the cor­ner of the end zone, Dixon out­jumped the de­fender and came down in­bounds, mak­ing it 21-20,

”I didn’t think he was go­ing to pass it to me,” said Dixon, who caught six passes for 89 yards. “It wasn’t the de­fender’s fault. It was a per­fect pass. It just looked like it was in slow mo­tion to me and just fell into my hands. It’s a dream come true to catch the win­ning TD in my se­nior year for a sec­ond straight cham­pi­onship.”

Head coach Mike Lynn and his coach­ing staff cred­ited the come­back with ad­just­ments made at half­time and the team’s abil­ity to ex­e­cute the changes.

“Our co­or­di­na­tors made some great ad­just­ments on of­fense to es­tab­lish the run­ning game and im­prove our pass­ing game. Our de­fen­sive coaches made ad­just­ments to our de­fense to stop their run­ning game and to not al­low any points in the sec­ond half. And our spe­cial team coaches made us con­sis­tent there,” Lynn said. “But the big­gest part was our play­ers ad­justed and be­lieved. Down 20-0 to a team we had al­ready lost to twice, can put you in a sit­u­a­tion where you don’t think you’ll have suc­cess. But our play­ers brought us all the glory. Two in a row (con­fer­ence ti­tles). Got to be tough any­where to beat a team three times. We were blessed.”

Con­cor­dia mounted a small drive that ended with an in­ter­cep­tion just within their field goal range. AACS then ran out the clock with Ak­in­mukomi pick­ing up the fi­nal first down to keep pos­ses­sion.

“We just came out and did what we were sup­posed to,” said Ak­in­mukomi, who rushed for 127 yards.

NO. 4 ARCH­BISHOP SPALD­ING 32, RIVERDALE BAP­TIST 12: The vis­it­ing Cava­liers (7-2) went on a 13-0 run in the sec­ond quar­ter and beat the Cru­saders (7-4) in the Mary­land Chris­tian Schools In­vi­ta­tional. Spald­ing will face No. 2 Calvert Hall and Riverdale Bap­tists plays Avalon in the next round. The Cru­saders were held score­less in the sec­ond and third quar­ters.

NO. 5 MOUNT SAINT JOSEPH 55, NA­TIONAL CHRIS­TIAN ACADEMY 14: The Gaels (9-2) beat the Ea­gles (6-3) in Mary­land Chris­tian Schools In­vi­ta­tional at Oxon Hill. Mount St. Joseph will play Cap­i­tal Chris­tian in next round.

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