St. Frances' football team needed some big plays to slip by Severn in Saturday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship and Khalil Stanfield made the biggest play of all.
The junior linebacker intercepted a Ben Priddy pass with 2:20 left to seal a 30-25 victory and the second straight C Conference title for the Panthers (11-0) at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.
With 7:33 left in a game that featured 10 turnovers, the Admirals (8-4) took a 25-24 lead on Brett Bedard's 14-yard touchdown run, but the Panthers answered with a 5-minute, 82-yard scoring drive capped by Mark Velasquez's 25-yard run with 2:26 remaining.
On the Admirals' next play, Priddy, who completed 10 of 20 passes for 106 yards, threw a short pass intended for Jarid Ryan, but the ball clipped off Ryan's hands and Stanfield grabbed it as they fell to the ground.
"That was big. It was crunch time," Stanfield said. "I saw it thrown and I thought it was going to be an incomplete pass. Then I saw the ball come up in the air, so I just went after it."
The Admirals (8-4) were the last team to beat St. Frances, 33-0, last fall during the regular season, but the Panthers have won 17 straight since then, including both title games over Severn. Still, the Admirals were the only team to give St. Frances a game this fall. They led the regular-season game, too, before the Panthers finished big for a 52-31 win.
"We knew they were a good team," Bedard said. "We moved the ball on them. They just got us in the end. We were really confident. We were with them last time for 3 1/2 quarters and they broke out at the end. They did the same thing here, but it was much closer here."
The Panthers went into the title game averaging a state-best 53.75 points per game thanks in large part to their running game.
Saturday, Velazquez (14 carries, 97 yards), Williams (13 carries, 136 yards) and Mike Bell (18 carries, 74 yards) built an 18-7 lead early in the second quarter, but the Admirals cut it to 18-12 by the break on a safety and Priddy's 50-yard field goal, the longest of his career.
Bedard hit David Jones with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tie at 18 with 3:57 to go. The teams traded turnovers before Williams scored his third touchdown for a 24-18 Panthers' lead with 10:17 to go in the third quarter.
"They're very well coached and they're very disciplined," Panthers' coach Messay Hailemariam said. "They've done very well even against B Conference opponents, so ultimately you have to do like we did. I give my kids all the credit. They were exhausted but they stayed in it. We say, 'Always persevere and ultimately you'll get the opportunity to make a play,' and that's what happened."
SEV 7 5 6 7 -- 25SF 12 6 0 12 -- 30SF--Williams 65 pass from Estep (kick failed)SF--Velasquez 37 run (run failed)SEV--Ryan 58 pass from Priddy (Priddy kick)SF--Williams 18 run (pass failed)SEV--SafetySEV--Priddy 50 FGSEV--Jones 8 pass from Bedard (kick failed)SF--Williams 39 run (kick failed)SEV--Bedard 14 run (Priddy kick)SF--Velasquez 25 run (run failed)