Elks shut out rival Eagles in second half
Claim first-ever Battle of 213 Trophy
— It was a contest worthy of a sledgehammer.
After a first half that saw Bohemia Manor out- physical and outscore visiting Elkton, the Golden Elks responded by shutting out their rival over the final two quarters, leaning on three secondhalf rushing touchdowns from Raiquon Estep and a suffocating defense to topple the Eagles 33-14 and claim the rivalry’s first-ever trophy—a sledgehammer dubbed “The Battle of 213 Trophy”—in Susquehanna Division football action on Thursday.
Estep, who scored on his team’s first two possessions of the third quarter to quickly put a one-point halftime deficit in the rearview mirror, allowed No. 1 Elkton (7-1 overall, 5-0 division) to maintain its undefeated mark in the Susquehanna and continue its trek to-
wards a second-straight 2A East Region postseason berth.
“Sometimes it takes getting punched in the mouth to wake up the monster. They punched us in the mouth, they woke us up,” Elkton coach Matt Feeney said. “We had zero doubts that we weren’t going to come out and execute in the second half. Defensively, especially. We game planned for what they threw at us all week and we reminded them of that in that locker room. We said, ‘There are no adjustments to make. Do your job and everything will take care of itself.’ That’s what they did in the second half.”
Trailing at halftime for just the second time this season, the Elks defense turned in a dominating second half, taking apart an Eagles offense that produced over 160 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns by Bobby McLennan prior to the break and holding them to less than 60 yards over the final two quarters.
“We were actually stung. We weren’t expecting them to come out the way they did. They wanted this game,” Elkton defensive lineman Marquis Byrd said. “But we dug down deep. We fought back, came back in the second half ready to play and we executed.”
When the Elks defense finally took the field for the first time in the third quarter, it did so with a slight lead.
Estep, a junior, delivered Elkton a 19-14 advantage when he capped his team’s nine-play, 55-yard opening series of the second half with a 3-yard touchdown rush up the middle. Then, after the Eagles punted their ensuing possession, the Elks’ electric running back extended his team’s lead with 8:40 remaining by out-racing defenders to the pylon for a 7-yard score on the final play of a 77-yard drive.
“Defensively, we were fine. We gave them short field a couple of times, which hurt. Offensively, we got behind the sticks and we’re not built to play second-and-15s, third-and-12s. We get behind the sticks early and it’s hard to battle back because we can’t establish the run,” Bo Manor coach Joe Graf said. “I thought both teams played their tails off. This is
what Cecil football is. People knock Cecil County football but this is what it’s been.”
Estep finished the game with four rushing scores. He gave his team an early 7-0 advantage when he escaped untouched for a 42yard touchdown run on Elkton’s opening possession. He later capped the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown scamper with less than two minutes remaining.
McLennan answered Estep’s opening touchdown when he busted through the middle for a 33-yard touch-
down that tied the game. After Elks quarterback Jackson Argoe found Tyler Durant in the end zone for a 30-yard scoring strike late in the first quarter, McLennan struck again on the ensuing drive with a 3-yard rush that made it 14-13.
Bo Manor (5-3, 3-2) then recovered the following onside kick but failed to move the chains before punting the football.
Elkton’s defense sealed the contest in the fourth quarter when it forced a pair of interceptions on back-
to-back possessions. Senior defensive back D’onte Leign picked off Eagles quarterback Ryan Connolley, before safety Mike Matthews stepped in front of a Connolley pass intended for receiver Johnny Knight and returned it to the opposing red zone, setting up Estep’s final touchdown.
“Johnny is their main receiver so I stuck him. I saw the quarterback’s eyes and I just read the play,” Matthews said. “Before [halftime] we were a little iffy. I was a little iffy on my part,
but after the talk inside the locker room we all came together and played as a team.”
The loss snapped a threegame winning streak for Bo Manor, which jointly created the Battle of 213 Trophy with Elkton—the only other Cecil County football program to win a state championship. The trophy is named for the nine-mile stretch of highway that runs between the rival high schools.
The Elks, who entered the evening ranked fourth in
the 2A East MPSSAA point standings, hold onto the final playoff spot for another week, while the Eagles are still in great shape to secure the second seed and homefield advantage in the opening round of the 1A East postseason.
“Anytime you can beat Bo Manor on their field late in the season, that’s a momentum gainer,” Feeney said. “We can absolutely build on that.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig
Members of the Elkton defense swarm to tackle Bohemia Manor running back Bobby McLennan during the Golden Elks’ 33-14 win over the Eagles in Susquehanna Division football action on Thursday. The victory delivered Elkton the first-ever Battle of 213 Trophy.