Stone climbs back to .500 with win over Rams

Cougars pull away in fourth to pre­vail

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­

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

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