Com­ing all the way back

Stone ral­lies from 22-point thirdquar­ter deficit to beat La Plata by 1

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

Through the first half and well into the third quar­ter of Friday’s game on the rain-soaked car­pet of North Point High School, which be­lat­edly be­came the home site for Thomas Stone High School’s home­com­ing game, the La Plata High School football team had found ways to make things even more miserable for the Cougars.

Trail­ing 30-8 early in the third quar­ter of the South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence Ch­e­sa­peake Di­vi­sion con­test, Thomas Stone (2-3, 1-1 SMAC Ch­e­sa­peake) made the most of its im­promptu home site for home­com­ing and coun­tered with two touch­downs in the third quar­ter and another in the fourth for an im­prob­a­ble 31-30 vic­tory over the War­riors.

Tae­jon Gray, who scored the Cougars’ first touch­down on a run, caught a 17-yard pass from Jonathan Har­ris for the last one.

“I didn’t want to lose on home­com­ing,” Gray said. “I had never lost a home­com­ing game dur­ing my first three years on the team. I didn’t want to lose this one. We just knew we could come back. I told [Stone head] coach [Danny Rip­ple] I could get open and I knew Jonathan could get me the ball.”

Af­ter fall­ing be­hind 30-8 early in the third quar­ter, Stone coun­tered with a 53-yard run by De’john Broad­wa­ter and then an 8-yard run by Har­ris to trim the gap to 30-23. Mid­way through the fourth, the Cougars started a drive that ended with Har­ris con­nect­ing with Gray on a 17-yard post pat­tern and then Har­ris plowed for­ward for the two-point con­ver­sion for the Cougars’ first lead of the night.

La Plata (1-4, 0-2), which scored three touch­downs on its first four pos­ses­sions, needed only five plays to cross mid­field but time ex­pired with the War­riors fac­ing fourth down at the Stone 35-yard line and still likely out

of field goal range. While the Cougars cel­e­brated their come­from-be­hind vic­tory, the War­riors walked somberly to­ward the far end zone.

La Plata had scored on its first two of­fen­sive pos­ses­sions, first on a 9-yard run by ju­nior quar­ter­back Jor­dan Sin­clair and then on a 21-yard pass from Sin­clair to tight end Wil­liam Mead­ows. Mid­way through the sec­ond quar­ter, the War­riors took their first of two 22-point leads when Tyler Get­gen scored on a 12-yard run around the right side.

Stone could have aban­doned its ini­tial game plan at that point, but Rip­ple, the team’s first-year head coach, opted to stay with his ground at­tack. The Cougars fi­nally got on the board late in the sec­ond quar­ter, march­ing 67 yards in 10 plays with Gray find­ing the end zone on a 6-yard run with just over three min­utes left in the first half.

“Like my former coach [at Calvert High] used to tell me, ‘Any­time you can get the ball in your best player’s hands,’” Rip­ple said. “We started him out in the back­field and then in the sec­ond half I moved him to wide­out hop­ing that he could take some de­fend­ers with him and en­able our in­side run­ners to find room.”

La Plata emerged from the locker room with a 22-8 lead and promptly added to it. The War­riors went 65 yards in nine plays and again it was Sin­clair who found Mead­ows in the left cor­ner of the end zone for a 23-yard scor­ing strike. Sin­clair then hit We­ston Alexan­der III for the two-point con­ver­sion and the War­riors again led by 22 points at 30-8.

“I thought we did enough to stay bal­anced through the first half,” said La Plata firstyear head coach Rod Mil­stead, whose team is sched­uled to be at St. Charles at 7 p.m. Friday. The Spar­tans were shut out at North Point ear­lier Sept. 30, 310. “We prob­a­bly should have changed some things up on de­fense in the sec­ond half. They were able to put to­gether some good drives by stay­ing on the ground and we didn’t make ad­just­ments for that.”

Again faced with the prospect of need­ing to score quickly, Rip­ple re­mained con­fi­dent that his ground game could pave the way. Fol­low­ing a short kick­off by La Plata, Stone needed only two plays to find pay­dirt as Broad­wa­ter, a se­nior, went 53 yards off left tackle for a touch­down that trimmed the Cougars deficit to 30-16.

“Get­ting that quick score was huge,” Rip­ple said. “It re­ally gave us a boost and meant we still had plenty of time to come back. We stayed with the game plan. We wanted to keep run­ning the ball in­side and have our guys just find the holes. The line did a great job and the guys just kept find­ing run­ning lanes.”

Stone is sched­uled to host McDonough at 7 p.m. Friday. The Rams were shut out by West­lake on Saturday, 30-0.

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