Waldorf, MD – In the 4A State Semifinals, one-seed North Point hosted four-seed Mergenthaler Vo-Tech (Mervo) from Baltimore. North Point entered the game undefeated (12-0) and defeated their first two playoff opponents by a combined 69 points. Mervo suffered one loss to Dunbar in week eight but won four straight leading into Friday night’s game.

Neither team was able to move the ball effectively in the first quarter. North Point avoided catastrophe early, stopping Mervo after a fumble on the exchange between quarterback Asa Williams (Jr.) and running back Corey Johnson (Jr.). North Point scored the game’s first points early in the second quarter when a sack by Kavon Burks (Jr.) and a short Mervo punt gave the Eagles excellent field position. In enemy territory, faced with fourth and short, the Eagles were able to draw the Mustangs offside for the first down. Williams took advantage of his new set of downs by shrugging off a Mervo defender, setting his feet, and delivering a perfect 25-yard touchdown pass to James Warner Jr. (Sr.) in the corner of the end zone. North Point took their 7-0 lead with 8:42 in the second quarter following the extra-point.

Mervo struggled to sustain drives and shift field position the whole night, leading to a safety following a punt by North Point’s Evan Patterson (Sr.) that pinned the Mustangs inside of their 10-yard-line. Mervo’s punter, who struggled throughout the night, bobbled the low snap and fell on the ball in the end zone with 4:12 left in the half. Down 9-0 and under two minutes in the second period, the deflated Mervo team began a drive from their own 28 yard-line, needing to score to gain some momentum before the half. Following some off-the-mark passes, Mervo’s quarterback—Kelin Kimbrough (Jr.)— scrambled for a 22-yard gain, bringing the ball to the 50-yard-line with 1:04 on the clock. The next play, Kimbrough threw a strike to Corey Shell (Sr.) for another 20-yards. Sitting just out of the red zone at the North Point 30-yard-line, Kimbrough dropped back to pass and was sacked by Eagles’ defensive end Burks, his second of the night. A few plays later, with no timeouts left, the nation’s leader in interceptions added to his 14-interception total by jumping Kimbrough’s pass at the 4-yard-line.

The visitors from Baltimore began the second half continuing to struggle on special teams. The Mustangs started with the ball at their own 20 before having their punt blocked. Mervo’s punter recovered the ball, and North Point took over at the Mervo 6-yard-line. Williams went on to run the ball in from 3 yards out, and the Eagles stretched their lead to 16-0 following the extra point. The Mustangs responded by stringing together a few big plays, including a conversion on fourth and 21, capped off by Kimbrough’s 2-yard rushing touchdown. With the score now 16-6, Mervo attempted to shorten North Point’s lead to a single score by going for two. The Mustangs, unable to convert, went down 10-points with 5:20 left in the third. Now with a little bit of momentum, Mervo forced the Eagles to fumble. Mervo took over at the North Point 46-yard-line. A 15-yard run by Darius Hill (Sr.) brought the Mustangs to the 31-yard-line. Failing to gain substantial yardage on the next three downs, Kimbrough dropped back to pass on fourth and 9 and was able to get a pass interference call against the defense that moved the ball up to the Eagles’ 14-yard-line. North Point’s defense prevailed and stopped the Mustangs on fourth and 3 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

After going three-and-out, the Eagles were forced to punt from their own end zone, allowing  Patterson to show off his leg, booting the kick to around the 50-yard-line, where it was fielded by Mervo’s Terry Jones Jr. (Sr.). Jones returned the punt 25-yards all the way up to the North Point 23-yard-line. An offensive pass interference penalty moved the Mustangs back to the 37-yard-line, but it made no difference to Kimbrough who found Tyree Williams (Jr.) over the middle for a touchdown, narrowing the score to 16-13 with 10:08 left in the fourth. North Point immediately answered, as Johnson broke for a long run on an option pitch from Williams who then hit Lawrence for a 34-yard pass, placing the Eagles in prime scoring position at the 1-yard-line. Williams capped off the 81-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown rush, putting the Eagles ahead by ten, 23-13. Mervo was granted two more chances to score in the game, moving into North Point territory both times, but failed to convert on fourth down. North Point got the ball back for the final time with 2:27 left in the game. The Eagles got a first down after Williams ran the ball up the middle for a big gain, fumbling at the end, but he luckily recovered it. Mervo, out of timeouts and unable to stop the clock, watched as North Point knelt the clock down to zero.

North Point moves to (13-0) on the season and will play in the school’s first State Championship at the Naval Academy on Friday. The Eagles’ opponent in the 4A final will be 2-seed (12-1) Quince Orchard, who beat North Point in the State Semifinals last year. The rematch will kick off at 7:30 p.m. For information on the State Championships and how to view the games on TV, visit the MPSSAA website here.

Contact Jerold at staffwriter@thebaynet.com.