BERLIN- The Berlin Junior Dolphins’ dream of a perfect season and a Salvation Army “Red Shield” League championship ended in one dramatic moment on Tuesday night.
The Junior Dolphins ran the table in the regular season with a perfect 9-0 mark and cruised to the league championship game against the Pocomoke Warriors on Tuesday. However, after taking a late lead in the game, the Dolphins saw their championship hopes dissolve on a dramatic “Hail Mary” touchdown pass by the Warriors in the waning moments of the game.
From the beginning, the Junior Dolphins continued a season-long pattern of domination on both sides of the ball, but had difficulty converting long early drives to points. After a scoreless first quarter, the Dolphins finally broke through on a five-yard TD run up the middle by Colton Lohnas. After turnovers halted Berlin drives twice inside the Warriors’ 20-yard line, the Dolphins scored again with less than two minutes remaining in the first half on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Justin Meekins to Collin Gaynor to extend the lead to 12-0 at the half.
Early in the second half, Pocomoke broke out with a 45-yard run with a 15-yard facemask penalty tacked on to set up an early scoring opportunity. Two plays later, the Warriors punched it in and converted the extra point to cut the Berlin lead to 12-7. Midway through the third quarter, Pocomoke went on a methodical eight-play drive that ended with a touchdown and converted extra point and Berlin trailed for the first time in the game at 13-12.
Berlin responded with a long, time-consuming drive that ended with another turnover, but the Dolphins would take the lead a short time later. With Pocomoke buried deep in its own end, Berlin blitzed on third and short and tackled the Warrior quarterback in the end zone for a safety and a 14-13 lead.
Late in the game, the Warriors took over on their own 15-yard line with 1:35 remaining and no timeouts. After a couple of plays, Pocomoke faced a critical third down when lightning struck. Somehow, a Pocomoke wide receiver got behind the Berlin defense and the Warriors connected on a 72-yard “Hail Mary” touchdown pass to retake the lead at 21-14. Berlin drove to the Pocomoke 38-yard line late in the game, but time expired as did the Dolphins’ dream of a perfect season and a league championship.