"That was the only adjustment we made at halftime," Brunswick coach Kevin Lynott said. "That was the only play we didn't hit yet. We said we were going to come out and wait to hit it at the right time."
The time came with 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter and Brunswick nursing a 3-0 halftime lead. South Hagerstown's defense stacked up the outside lanes to force the Railroaders to look for alternatives.
"(South) made a statement by the way the ran their slants," Lynott said. "They weren't going to let us run outside. We don't have that much outside speed ... we are more of a power team."
With the Rebels (5-4, 4-2) more concerned with Brunswick's short curl routes, Papanicolas got off the line on a third-and-15 play on South's 35-yard line and ran straight down the middle of the field.
He dissected three South defenders - the tallest three inches shorter than him - and caught quarterback Aaron Main's eye.
"I just saw him break and I floated it out there for him," Main said.
Papanicolas jumped up as the defense converged, slapped at the ball and caught it at the highest point on the South 3. He spun around off the low tackles and fell into the end zone for the touchdown.
"I had a mismatch on the free safety," Papanicolas said. "I was taller and I felt like if I could get a little open, I could get the ball because they were shorter than me."
From there, Brunswick (5-4, 4-2) turned the game over to the defense and the running of Eric Zwilsky, who ran 28 times for 107 yards - including 51 yards in the fourth quarter - to ice the game. Zwilsky's total gave him 1,412 yards for the season, topping the school record by one yard.
"We were in good shape (on the pass)," South coach Greg Kellick said. "The kid had a heck of a catch and that was a heck of a throw. That's why you practice those kinds of things."
South answered on the next possession, using Allen Daniels as the featured back on a 78-yard scoring drive. Daniels got the Rebels rolling with a 23-yard sweep as the Rebels chipped away before scoring on Tim Poppen's 20-yard pass over the middle to Ronald Jackson on the last play of the third quarter. The Rebels failed on a two-point conversion which would have cut the lead to one point.
"That was a combination of all the assistant coaches getting together to make it work," Kellick said. "We saw that they were overloaded and got some reports from the coaches up in the press box and drew up five or six plays from that.
"We wanted to go for two to get to 9-8 so we could try for a field goal to win the game instead of tie. We just got in the wrong play and never had a chance."
South had two consecutive shots to take the lead in the fourth quarter after the Rebels recovered a punt which bounced off a Brunswick blocker with 7 minutes remaining. The second drive sputtered as well.
Brunswick got two straight shots to extend the lead as South attempted to block a punt with 4:15 remaining, but was called for roughing the kicker to sustain the drive. The Railroaders ran out the clock after the penalty.
The Railroaders led 3-0 at the half after Andrew White hit a 35-yard field goal that scrapped the crossbar while going over with 2:34 left before intermission.
Main finished with 159 yards passing as Brunswick outgained South, 307-160. Jimbo Harmon led South with 53 yards rushing.
"We had been good at blocking punts," Kellick said. "We blocked eight this year and we thought we'd like to try and get it so we only had to go in from the 20. It wasn't a nasty hit, but sometimes you have to go after it. When you roll the dice, sometimes you lose."