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Middletown puts unbeaten season on line

November 23, 2001

Middletown puts unbeaten season on line



By MARK KELLER / keller@herald-mail.com

Something will have to give tonight in Harford County.

Unlike the state soccer final, which can and, in many cases will, end in a draw, tonight's Middletown-Joppatowne Class 2A football semifinal will result in one team going home with its first and only loss of the season.

The other will make a long-awaited return trip to the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium next weekend for the state championship game.

Middletown (11-0) is chasing its first state title. The Knights appeared in the final in 1981 and 1991.

The Knights have gotten to where they are now with a potent balance of offense and defense.

After giving up three passing touchdowns in their season-opening 20-18 win over Thomas Johnson, the Knights allowed just seven touchdowns the rest of the year.

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Middletown is riding a nine-quarter shutout string, which includes a 7-0 win over Glenelg last Friday in the Class 2A quarterfinal.

Offensively, Middletown coach Tim Ambrose has put the bulk of the load on the shoulders of junior tailback Josh Keeney.

Keeney finished the regular season with 1,564 yards and added 173 on 39 carries in the Glenelg win last week.

In two games since losing backfield mate Scott Harshman to injury, Keeney has rushed for 423 yards and six touchdowns.

Chris Anderson threw for more than 1,000 yards during the regular season. He will look for receivers Brooks Moser and Jack O'Leary to relieve some of the pressure on Keeney.

Joppatowne is trying to get back to Byrd for the first time since 1976, when it made the last of three straight appearances in the state final.

The Mariners won the Class C (now 1A) title in 1975.

Quarterback Dalys Talley threw for 1,101 yards during the regular season and tossed two touchdown passes in Joppatowne's 14-0 win over Wicomico in last week's quarterfinal.

Scoring may be at a premium in tonight's game. Like Middletown, the Mariners have posted two straight shutouts entering the semifinals.

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