Stone climbs back to .500 with win over Rams
Cougars pull away in fourth to prevail
Through the first half of his rookie season as head coach of the Thomas Stone High School football team, Danny Ripple has grown accustomed to seeing his team overcome first-half deficits in order to upend cross county rivals.
One week after rallying from a pair of 22-point deficits to defeat La Plata, 31-30, Stone fell behind early again at home against McDonough on Friday night before eventually prevailing 33-20 in a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Chesapeake Division game that was much closer than the final score indicated.
Stone (3-3, 2-1 SMAC Chesapeake) scored the game’s first touchdown midway through the first quarter on a 12-yard pass from Jonathan Harris to Taejon Gray. Then late in the fourth quarter, after McDonough narrowed the Cougars’ lead to 27-20, Stone leaned on Gray again. This time the senior tailback scored on a 36-yard run off left tackle on fourth down and 6 play with less than two minutes remaining.
“There was no way we could punt there,” Ripple said of the fourth down play. “We already had one punt blocked and we just couldn’t take a chance being up just one score. We thought we could get that play blocked and we did and Taejon hit the hole and took it all the way. But it was another tough game against another well-coached team in SMAC.”
Throughout much of the game, McDonough (1-5, 0-3) had done a good job containing Gray and fellow running backs De’john Broadwater and Eric Thompson. But after climbing back to within 27-20 and then failing to recover an onsides kick, the Rams could not get the ball back after exhausting all of their timeouts and they could not stop Gray when it counted most.
“I told coach before that play that I thought we could get outside,” Gray said. “We lined up left and they blocked it perfect for me and I just followed by blocks and hit the hole. I knew that I could get the first down and then I was able to take it to the house.”
Gray had scored the game’s first touchdown in the first quarter, but the Cougars would hardly coast past the Rams. In fact, McDonough countered with consecutive scores.
Quarterback William Golden connected with Brent Butler on an 11-yard scoring strike to narrow the gap to 7-6 late in the first quarter, then the Rams opened the second quarter scoring when Hezi Hawkins caught a screen pass from Golden and converted it into a 46-yard scoring play for a 13-7 lead.
“I like the way we fought tonight and we made some plays,” McDonough first-year head coach Jonathan Briscoe said. “We have one of the smaller rosters in the league, but these guys come ready to play every week. Stone has a lot of weapons, especially at running back. It’s tough to contain all of them. I thought we played well tonight. It was