Coming all the way back
Stone rallies from 22-point thirdquarter deficit to beat La Plata by 1
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.