Pan­thers get off to a fast start

Gross scores twice in first 5 minutes of de­layed opener

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Brian Bur­den

It took four ex­tra days, but the wait was worth it for Trey Gross, Cameron Hough and the An­napo­lis foot­ball team.

Gross re­turned a fumble and an in­ter­cep­tion for touch­downs in the game’s first five plays from scrim­mage, and Hough rushed for118 yards and three touch­downs on just five car­ries as the Pan­thers got their sea­son off to a quick start with a 52-7 vic­tory over Meade on Tues­day.

Ah­mon Mid­dle­ton had an in­ter­cep­tion and a rush­ing touch­down, Ny­on­jae Spriggs had an in­ter­cep­tion and a fumble re­cov­ery, and DJ Turner blocked two punts for An­napo­lis (1-0), which took a 31-0 lead on three turnovers and a blocked punt in the first 12 minutes.

“As a coach, and as a coach­ing staff, it is al­ways very re­ward­ing when we see the stuff we work on in prac­tice carry over into the game,” An­napo­lis coach Nick Good-Mal­loy said. “There were a num­ber of sit­u­a­tions where guys were do­ing what they were taught to do at a very high level. We got off to an ex­tremely fast start.”

No­body got out faster than Gross, a tow­er­ing, hulk­ing 6-foot-3 pres­ence in the Pan­thers’ se­condary. Af­ter wait­ing four ex­tra days to play, on the sec­ond play from scrim­mage, he stripped Amari Sims and scam­pered 6 yards into the end zone. Three plays into Meade’s next pos­ses­sion, he in­ter­cepted Eli­jah Smith (10-for-22, 62 yards) and re­turned the ball 19 yards for the score. He fol­lowed those take-aways with a se­ries of hits that made his pres­ence felt all game.

“It is all about hit or be hit, and we wanted An­napo­lis’ Ah­mon Mid­dle­ton re­turns an in­ter­cep­tion as Meade’s Kyle Row­den tries to bring him down in the sec­ond quar­ter. Mid­dle­ton also had a rush­ing touch­down. to im­press that on them the whole game,” Gross said. “It is hard work over every­thing and do­ing your job, and we re­ally wanted to carry that in­ten­sity from the be­gin­ning of the game to the end of the game.”

The Mus­tangs ros­ter is stock­piled with ju­niors, many mak­ing their first var­sity ap­pear­ance. That lack of game time showed, par­tic­u­larly onof­fense, as Meade(0-1) had­five pos­ses­sions in the first quar­ter, none of which lasted more than five plays.

“I think, es­pe­cially with the young kids com­ing up from JV, it is about get­ting those jit­ters out,” Mus­tangs coach Al­bert Jones said. “We knew there was a chance we were go­ing to fal­ter at the be­gin­ning, so it was just about stay­ing fo­cused on the task and the next play, and that is what we are go­ing to con­tinue to preach.”

Justin Wil­liams threw for 38 yards, in- clud­ing a13-yard touch­down pass to Omar’od White, and ran for 73 yards and an­other score, as the Pan­thers led at the half, 38-7.

Meade re­sponded well in the sec­ond quar­ter, how­ever, turn­ing An­napo­lis over twice. Uvel Paul Jr. re­cov­ered a fumble that led to a 5-yard touch­down run by Smith, and An­thony May had an in­ter­cep­tion.

The teams were orig­i­nally sched­uled to play Fri­day, but the game was post­poned be­cause of con­cerns about the health of Meade play­ers.

PAUL W. GILLESPIE/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

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