AACS erases 20-point deficit
Eagles upend Concordia for MIAA C crown; Spalding tops Riverdale Baptist
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.