Lackey football takes gi­ant step with win over Patux­ent

Charg­ers are a field goal bet­ter than Pan­thers

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com

Ma­lik Burns took the hand­off and ran straight into the pile. The Lackey se­nior could have gone down af­ter just a short gain, as had been the gen­eral rule on the rain­soaked field at Patux­ent on Friday night, but he didn’t.

Burns kept his legs churn­ing, turn­ing a short gain into a first down and even­tu­ally into a 26-yard run, eas­ily the longest play for ei­ther team in the crit­i­cal South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence Ch­e­sa­peake Di­vi­sion football con­test.

While the first-down run, which orig­i­nated from the Patux­ent 39-yard line with 2 min­utes 17 sec­onds left in the game, did not end with six points or guar­an­tee the hosts would not get the ball back, it did ef­fec­tively put one fi­nal stamp on a sig­nif­i­cant night for the vis­it­ing Charg­ers, who de­feated Patux­ent 3-0.

“That was our game plan,” Lackey head coach John Lush said of rid­ing his se­nior run­ning back, who car­ried the ball 42 times for 165 yards in the game, essen­tially ac­count­ing for all of the team’s of­fense. “They have a lot of big-play po­ten­tial. We thought if we could take some snaps away from them, we’d be bet­ter off in the end. They all bought into the game plan and he just kept run­ning his legs and run­ning his legs.”

The pile-mov­ing run ad­vanced the ball to the Patux­ent 13. Lackey (4-1, 2-0 Ch­e­sa­peake) even­tu­ally turned the ball over on downs at the 7 with just over half a minute to play. But with no time­outs left and hav­ing been un­able to get much of any­thing go­ing con­sis­tently on of­fense, Patux­ent (41, 1-1) never threat­ened to author a dra­matic fin­ish. Af­ter a 7-yard run by Taz­man Davis on first down, two in­com­plete passes and a sack later, the ball was back in Lackey’s hands for one kneel­down and a huge vic­tory.

“It’s a great team win,” Lush said. “All year our of­fense has played re­ally, re­ally well. De­fen­sively, we’ve had a bend but don’t break men­tal­ity. Our DBs haven’t played very well all year. We knew we had a big chal­lenge this week. They an­swered the call and took a step for­ward.”

En­ter­ing the game, Patux­ent quar­ter­back Reese Crounse had passed for close to 1,000 yards through four games to lead an ex­plo­sive multi-di­men­sional at­tack that had rolled up 166 points. But in the tough, soggy con­di­tions on Friday night, the Pan­thers had just three com­plete passes and gained less than 100 yards of to­tal of­fense.

We watched film, and this week made progress,” Lackey cor­ner­back Jor­dan Carter said. “We had to key on key play­ers and lock them down like we did tonight.”

In the first quar­ter, a 13yard run by Crounse, fol­lowed by a Dwayne Smith rush and a Crounse com­ple­tion to My­ron Young earned the Pan­thers two quick first downs on their first pos­ses­sion. But, with the ball sit­ting across mid­field on the Lackey 49, the Pan­thers quickly moved back­wards with a pair of penal­ties and a sack. It turned out to be a theme, as the hosts moved the ball in small chunks at times, but were never able to drive deep into Lackey ter­ri­tory.

As it turned out, the only points the Pan­thers’ of­fense was able to con­trib­ute to were the three that Lackey scored. A fum­ble deep in their own ter­ri­tory was re­cov­ered by Lackey’s Nathan Proctor at the Patux­ent 22. Two plays later, a 12-yard Burns rush took the ball down to the 11 and well into com­fort­able field goal range. Brett Cul­hane later con­verted his 24-yard at­tempt with 6:12 re­main­ing in the first half to ac­count for what ended up be­ing the game’s only points.

“Ev­ery­one was do­ing their job. I don’t nec­es­sar­ily need to score ev­ery play to do my job, to do my best for the team. The de­fense did their thing. I give it out to the de­fense tonight,” Burns said. “This is a big win. Ev­ery­body doubted us and they have doubted us since Day 1, for years. It’s great to say we over­came it. It’s progress.”

Aside from the field goal, Patux­ent’s de­fense stood ev­ery bit as firm as Lackey’s. On the los­ing end of the field po­si­tion bat­tle much of the night, the Pan­thers were even able to fend off a Lackey first-and-goal se­quence from the 1. But ul­ti­mately the hosts were never able to kick their of­fense into gear on Friday.

“We chal­lenged our kids to get tough. This was re­ally our first phys­i­cal test of the year. Lackey, I think is one of the most big, strong and phys­i­cal teams in the league. We chal­lenged our kids and I thought that they stood up. Our de­fense re­ally held Burns in check and didn’t re­ally let them get go­ing,” Patux­ent head coach Steve Crounse said. “A night like this turns into a field po­si­tion game, and you get to­wards the end of the game and you have to start tak­ing some shots and they weren’t work­ing out for us.

“I’m proud of my kids. They fought. Hat’s off to Lackey. They did what they had to do to win the game. De­fen­sively they pose a lot of prob­lems. They have a lot of great ath­letes run­ning around out there and they put a lot of pres­sure on you. It’s go­ing to make us a bet­ter football team.”

Patux­ent is sched­uled to travel to Calvert in another crit­i­cal matchup at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Cava­liers went to 5-0 over­all af­ter a 36-12 win over Leonard­town on Mon­day night.

The Cava­liers and Pan­thers split two meet­ings a year ago, with Calvert de­feat­ing Patux­ent in the reg­u­lar sea­son and Patux­ent win­ning the re­gional semi­fi­nal round of the Class 2A South play­offs. Patux­ent pro­ceeded to win three more games and the state cham­pi­onship. This year, the teams, along with Lackey, are again jock­ey­ing for po­si­tion for a spot in the crowded four-team re­gional play­off field.

“The whole sea­son for us comes down to these two weeks,” Crounse said. “Calvert’s a ri­valry game. They’re ex­plo­sive. They’re well-coached. They come off the football and are one of the most phys­i­cal teams in the league. It’s go­ing to be a test for us to get up off the mat and come back, see how re­silient our kids are.”

On the other side­line, Lackey’s win put it squarely in the midst of that race for the play­offs. The Charg­ers are sched­uled to host West­lake, another 4-1 team in the 2A South Re­gion, on Friday night in another crit­i­cal game. The Wolver­ines shut out McDonough on Saturday, 30-0. Lush was look­ing for his team to take another step for­ward af­ter tak­ing a huge step at Patux­ent.

“We al­ways talk about tak­ing the next step as a pro­gram. We def­i­nitely took a step tonight,’ he said, “but make no mis­take, [Patux­ent is] go­ing to make the play­offs. We hope to make the play­offs, so we prob­a­bly have a chance to see them again.”

PHOTO BY MIKE RUDY

Lackey’s Brett Cul­hane pre­pares to kick a 24-yard field goal in the sec­ond quar­ter of the Charg­ers’ game at Patux­ent on Friday night. The kick was good and ac­counted for the game’s only points in Lackey’s 3-0 win.

PHOTO BY MIKE RUDY

Lackey’s Nathan Proctor re­cov­ers a Patux­ent fum­ble deep in Patux­ent ter­ri­tory to set up a Charg­ers’ field goal in Lackey’s 3-0 win at Patux­ent on Friday night.

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