Elks shut out ri­val Ea­gles in se­cond half

Claim first-ever Bat­tle of 213 Tro­phy

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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-

CH­E­SA­PEAKE CITY

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

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JOR­DAN SCHATZ

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.

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