- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
For the first time in five years, the Huntingtown Hurricanes got the best of the North Point Eagles in a clash of Southern Maryland Athletic Conference powers.
And sticking with the theme of firsts for Huntingtown, it pulled off the pivotal win in North Point for the first time in four meetings between the teams, forcing five turnovers — including two late in the game — to cement a tight a 17-14 victory Friday night and remain unbeaten at 5-0, 4-0 in the conference, this season.
With about five minutes left, North Point got to within a field goal of Huntingtown, which never trailed in the contest. On the ensuing kickoff, Huntingtown fumbled the ball away to North Point inside the Hurricanes’ 40-yard line.
It was a case of déjà vu, as Huntingtown fumbled away the kickoff to start the second half in last year’s battle with North Point. And the turnover enabled North Point to notch the deciding touchdown in a 14-7 outcome.
“It was just like last year,” Huntingtown first-year head coach Brendan Galligan, formerly an assistant, said about Friday’s potentially costly fumbled kickoff. “[The fumbled kickoff last year against North Point] really broke our backs.”
But Huntingtown’s ball-hawking defense made sure this latest fumble would not spark North Point to a comeback win.
Senior nose tackle Erwin Jones, who finished with five tackles, returned the favor by forcing a North Point fumble to give the ball back to Huntingtown. It was one of three fumble recoveries for the Hurricanes.
“He had a phenomenal game,” Galligan said of Jones, who was also in on five tackles.
The Huntingtown offense then chewed up some late minutes on the clock before punting the ball back to North Point, still only down by three points.
That’s when junior linebacker Austin Kline made a game-sealing interception for Huntingtown with 1 1/2 minutes left.
Kline’s impact performance also saw him recover a fumble and make six tackles.
“Definitely, this win was very satisfying,” Galligan said. “We hadn’t beaten those guys since 2007. To go on the road and fight the elements, that says a lot about the kids. It was a really gutsy effort all the way to the end.”
Huntingtown remains one of three perfect teams in the SMAC along with McDonough (5-0, 4-0) and Patuxent (5-0, 3-0).
“Playoff point-wise, this win really helps the cause [for the postseason],” Galligan said about his Class 3A South Region team knocking off 4A East North Point. “Anytime you can beat a 4A team that’s going to win a lot of games, it’s huge.”
North Point (3-2, 2-2) fell for the second straight week to a Calvert County elite team. The previous Friday saw the Eagles stumble at Patuxent, 31-8.
North Point has not lost anymore than three games in a season since 2008, and its schedule does not get any easier the second half of this season with contests against the formidable foes of McDonough, Friendship Collegiate Academy of Washington D.C. and Westlake.
North Point head coach Ken Lane could not be reached for comment.
“We knew they were a good team defensively,” Galligan said of North Point. “They gave up 31 points to Patuxent, but that was misleading.”
Running backs Bryson Curtis and Colton Rowe accounted for both Huntingtown touchdowns on the ground against North Point.
Curtis scampered into the end zone from 12 yards out to give Huntingtown a 7-0 first quarter lead. He carried the ball 20 times for 75 yards and added a pair of receptions for 27 more yards.
Rowe barreled in for a one-yard score to cushion the Huntingtown lead to 17-7 in the third. The touchdown was part of a team-high 87 rushing yards on 19 totes for Rowe, who also hauled in three catches for 32 yards.
“He gained a lot of the nasty yards for us,” Galligan said of Rowe.
Defensively, senior linebacker Josh Woodburn led Huntingtown with 11 tackles, seven of them solo. Teammate Tyler Sullivan also had seven solo tackles en route to finishing with nine for the night.
Huntingtown senior defensive back Jules Lucas enjoyed a decorated defensive night as well with eight tackles, six of them solo, along with an interception.
Senior quarterback Zach Piazza completed half of his 18 passes for Huntingtown for 131 yards with no interceptions.
North Point responded each time it fell in a hole until its two late turnovers that clinched the Huntingtown victory.
In the opening quarter once they went down 7-0, the Eagles quickly answered on their ensuing drive for a tying score. In the final quarter, they cut the Huntingtown lead to 17-14 with another touchdown but could not get any closer despite prime starting field position following the Hurricanes fumbled kickoff.
Huntingtown will be at Leonardtown at 6 p.m. Friday, while North Point hosts Chopticon at 7 p.m. Friday.