Golden Elks shut down Mustangs
Estep rushes for 213 yards, 3 TDs
— On both sides of the football Friday night, Elkton showcased the dominating style of play that earned the team a trip to last year’s 2A East Region Final— that is, when it wasn’t drawing a flag from the officials.
In between the nearly 200 yards of penalties they racked up, the Golden Elks proved as effective on offense as they were on defense, scoring five touchdowns of 20 yards or more and pitching a shutout to record a convincing 31-0, season-opening victory over visiting C.M. Wright.
“Defensively, shutout, swarming, just doing what they do and doing what we expect them to do, even though we shot ourselves in the foot. The penalties absolutely can’t happen. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m baffled that we had so many penalties against us. It’s insane,” Elkton head coach Matt Feeney said. “I can’t believe it’s 31-0 and I feel the way I do right now. I’ve never been in this position.
“We know what we’re capable of and tonight was more about us getting in our own way. We get out of our own way, I think we can move the football and have success.”
Three personal foul penalties against the Elks defense on the opening drive allowed the Mustangs to move the ball the length of the field to the opposing 25-yard line, but three straight stops on consecutive running plays followed by an incomplete pass turned the ball over on downs.
On Elkton’s ensuing defensive series, C.M. Wright ran twice for minus-6 yards before safety J’Qwan Benson stepped in front of quarterback Michael Starkey’s pass across the middle and returned it across midfield to the 32-yard line.
“We’re trying to show how we’re going to be all year [on defense],” senior defensive lineman Marquis Byrd said. “The defensive line did well. I was surprised, for real. We had a bad practice, but coming out here and getting a shutout, it means a lot.”
Later in the quarter, Benson put Elkton (1-0) on the board as a receiver when he hauled in a short pass from senior quarterback Jackson Argoe and out-raced the defenders for a 61-yard score.
“Me and [Benson] have played before in little league, so the connection has always kind of been there,” Argoe said. “That’s just the extra work before practice and after practice.”
Friday marked the first game in the purple and gold for Argoe, who transferred in the offseason to Elkton from Delaware’s Caravel Academy. His arrival prompted Benson, who started Elkton’s playoff games at quarterback last year, to move to receiver and defensive back.
The pair later hooked up for a 26yard touchdown when Argoe escaped from the pocket and found Benson on a broken play, who dove across the goal line for Elkton’s fourth score of the night. Argoe ended the contest 8-for-16 passing for 177 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also scrambled four times for 53 yards.
“What more could you want?” Feeney said of Argoe. “He’s an athlete. He can run, he can throw, he’s smart, he’s a leader. He’s exactly what you want leading your team. He’s been a blessing.”
While the Elks found success through the air, the bulk of their yards came on the ground.
Reigning All-County Offensive Player of the Year Raiquon Estep began his junior season by rushing for three touchdowns, finishing the contest with 15 carries for 213 rushing yards.
Estep’s longest rush of the night— a 74-yard touchdown run up the middle—gave the Elks a 19-0 advantage late in the first half.
“We know what we have on the offensive side of the ball,” Feeney said of Estep. “One guy, he gets that hole, he gets that crease and he can flip the game just like that, and that’s what he did. We’ll take it.”
The running back gave Elkton a 12-0 lead with a 22-yard touchdown run, before capping the scoring with a 46-yard scoring rush with less than three minutes remaining in the contest.
Friday represented Elkton’s second season-opening victory over the Mustangs (0-1) in as many years after it defeated the Chesapeake Division foe, 32-24, last September. The Elks went onto win nine regular-season contests to earn the third seed in the 2A East Region playoffs.
“I feel like we answered [our critics] but we still have a lot of work to do,” Argoe said. “We just have to go off this win and improve to get better for next week.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig
Elkton junior running back Raiquon Estep looks to move upfield during the Golden Elks’ 31-0 win over visiting C.M. Wright in non-divisional football action on Friday. Estep finished the game with 15 rushes for 213 yard and three touchdowns.