combined to rush for 213 yards in a regular-season finale win over eventual top-seeded Kent Island.
“They’re fast. We’re fast. We knew that was the matchup we wanted,” Feeney said. “We thought they were going to try to get to the edge on us and they figured it out early on that wasn’t going to be an easy task.”
The Lions’ deepest penetration on the night came late in the first quarter when it began with the ball in enemy territory following a punt by Elkton out of the end zone. Starting at the Elks’ 44, QA used a pair of runs and a penalty to bring up third-and-short at the 35. Elkton responded by stuffing the ensuing run play for a loss of one yard. It then brought down the ball carrier on fourth-and-2 behind the line of scrimmage to force a turnover on downs.
“We had a goal and we stuck to
that goal and we did what we had to do to stop their offense from scoring,” Elkton senior defensive end Marquis Byrd said. “We knew it was going to be a tough matchup because of the Wing-T and all the different type of plays they run like scissors and all that, but we busted our behinds all week long to stop them.”
The Lions finished with 87 yards of offense in the first half and had only 33 yardsds of offense after halftime.
The QA defense proved nearly as tough, holding the Elks to just single-digit rushing yards through the first two quarters and picking off an overthrown pass in the red zone midway through the second frame as both teams exited the field at halftime with the score tied at zero.
But on the first drive of the third quarter, Elkton junior running back Raiquon Estep finally broke free.
Six plays into the opening series of the second half, Estep broke through QA’s defensive front and
into the secondary, outracing would-be tacklers for a 32-yard touchdown run.
“It developed kind of slow but the line opened that hole up. As long as I’m patient, they’re going to open holes,” Estep said of the run that delivered Elkton the lead. “I felt like we finally had a little bit of [breathing] room and we just had to turn it up even more after that.”
Estep twisted the burner to high on the very next Elkton possession, capping a 70-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown run in which he barreled over a defender at the 1-yard line and dove into the end zone.
The junior finished the contest with 164 rushing yards on 28 carries.
Feeney credited a short film session during halftime for the ground game’s success in the second half.
“The creases were there, they just need to see on film that they needed to stay on their block for just another quarter of a second
and he’s going to get it, and there it was,” he said. “We’ve been a second half team all year. I thought we dominated the first half of the game and I told them just go out and keep doing what you’ve been doing.”
Suddenly trailing by two scores, the Lions (9-2) turned to the arm of their quarterback, Mike D’Angelo (5-for-14, 49 yards), but found little respite throwing the football, as the Elks recorded a sack on first down and Quiony Wesson picked off the pass on the following play to bring an end to the drive.
“We didn’t win the line of scrimmage. They took it to us and had a lot of penetration. We didn’t block as well as we could have and pass protection just didn’t get it done. We had some hot reads we didn’t hit but all the credit to Elkton. They played well,” QA’s head coach Don Graef said. “We just couldn’t get anything going. We were grasping for straws over there on the sidelines. Nothing was fluid, nothing you could build on. It was just hit or miss on certain plays.”
Elks senior quarterback Jackson Argoe finished 7-of-12 passing for 91 yards, including four completions to Tyrus Woodward (66 yards receiving).
Jykel Garner had nine carries for 49 yards and C.J. Rogers added eight carries for 30 yards for the Lions, who fell in the region semifinals for a second-straight season.
For Elkton, the win sets up a rematch of last season’s region final after fourth-seeded North Caroline upset Kent Island on Friday to also earn a return trip. Only this time, the Bulldogs will be traveling to Elkton.
Last year, the Elks fell to host North Caroline, 36-15.
“We’re ready, we’re hungry. We’re not the same team that we were last year,” Byrd said. “We’re getting ready to turn up and do what we have to do.”