CLARKSVILLE, Md. -- River Hill found itself in an unfamiliar situation at home on Friday night - trailing at halftime.
The Hawks, who had not trailed at halftime since the 2007 Class 2A state championship game, were behind Atholton 14-7.
"We were calm. We knew that we were moving the ball. The breaks just weren't going our way," River Hill head coach Brian Van Deusen said of halftime in the Hawks locker room. "We were confident that we could go down and tie it up and get momentum on our side."
And get momentum they did.
River Hill came out and marched 80 yards for a touchdown on its first possession of the third quarter to tie the game, then held Atholton to a three-and-out series then marched another 58 yards for a touchdown to take the lead on its next possession.
"We got behind, a position we've never been in before," senior offensive lineman Max Coale said. "We came together as a team and stuffed it down their throats."
The Hawks scored 21 points in the third quarter to take command of the game.
The win extends River Hill's winning streak to 37 straight games, which places them fourth all-time.
River Hill, which has not lost a Howard County game since Oct. 29, 2005, had not trailed in any game at halftime since the 2007 state championship game against Eastern Tech. In that game, the Hawks overcame a 7-0 deficit to win 14-7 and its first 2A championship.
In the trenches
River Hill's offensive and defensive lines dominated the game.
Jeremy Ogorzalek recovered a blocked punt, Nick Bonhag, Thomas Erdman and Brent Kluge each had sacks and Atholton's Kalvin Seamonson was flushed out of the pocket on almost every snap in the second half.
"We started dropping back and started changing our slants up a little bit and going after the quarterback," Bonhag said of the team's second-half adjustment.
Offensively, Kevin Johnson and Kluge each rushed for more than 100 yards and River Hill as a team rushed for 324 yards.
"We came off the ball in the very beginning of the game and they couldn't hang with us," Coale said. "We wore them down."
Johnson finished the game with 114 rushing yards and a touchdown and added 44 yards receiving. Kluge rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
Strength in numbers
River Hill had five players score touchdowns on Friday: Bonhag, Johnson, Kluge, Harry McLaughlin and John McMichael.
Airing it out
Atholton built its first-half lead on the arm of Seamonson, who threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
Seamonson hooked up with receiver Matt Robinson for touchdown passes of 91 and 80 in the first half.
Robinson finished the game with five catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
"We just lost our rhythm offensively," Atholton head coach Kyle Schmitt said after the game. "I didn't call a great second half, but they [the team] know they can play with these guys."
Chasing down a dream
River Hill's 37-game winning streak places them fourth all-time for most consecutive wins. This season, River Hill moved past Georgetown Prep (1967-1971) and Richard Montgomery (1966-1969), which had won 34 straight games. Next on the list is Seneca Valley (1997-2000), which won 41 straight games.
The record for most consecutive wins belongs to Urbana (1998-2001), which won 50 in a row.
What this means
River Hill (9-0) seals the No. 1 spot in the Class 3A East region. Depending on other results the next two weeks, the Hawks could play either J.M. Bennett or Wilde Lake in the first round of the playoffs.
Atholton (8-1) should hold on to the No. 2 seed in 3A East and if the seeding stays the way they are as of press time, will host Wilde Lake in the first round of the playoffs.
Atholton defeated Wilde Lake 34-30 in Week 4.
River Hill 0 | 7 | 21 | 7 | 35
Atholton 7 | 7 | 0 | 0 | 14
A - Robinson 91 pass from Seamonson (Kyle McGowan kick good)
R - Bonhag 2 run, (Amir Shaheg kick good), 5:00
A - Robinson 80 pass from Seamonson (McGowan kick good), 3:55
R - McMichael 13 pass from McLaughlin (Shaheg kick good), 7:17
R - McLaughlin 2 run (Shaheg kick good), 3:20
R - Johnson 5 run (Shaheg kick good), :18
R - Kluge 5 run (Shaheg kick good), 3:40