Let­ting it fly

Pan­thers cruise to win over Cougars

Maryland Independent - - Letting It Fly - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @cfh­philly

Dur­ing the 2015 sea­son, Jael- en Gross was a quar­ter­back on Patux­ent’s state cham­pi­onship team. He opened the sea­son as the start­ing quar­ter­back and started the Class 2A state cham­pi­onship game, shar­ing quar­ter­back du­ties with Reese Crounse.

This sea­son Gross transi- tioned to re­ceiver, where he has shown to be a dan­ger­ous weapon in the Pan­thers’ high-pow- ered at­tack, with 22 re­cep­tions for 427 yards and four touch­downs. But on Fri­day night at Thomas Stone, Gross found him­self with an op­por­tu­nity to air one out again.

Tak­ing pos­ses­sion at the Stone 40-yard line with 4 sec­onds left in the first half, Patux­ent made good use of its one play, run­ning a dou­ble pass to per­fec­tion for a half-end­ing touch­down. Gross, split wide right, took the ini­tial lat­eral from Crounse and then fired a strike down the field to Joel Tor­ney for the score. The sub­se­quent point-af­ter by Hunt- er Dixon gave the Pan­thers a 30-0 lead on what ended as a 43-6 win in the South­ern Mary- land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence Ches- apeake Divi­sion con­test, spoil- ing the Cougars’ se­nior night.

“We prac­tice it in prac­tice all the time, just to mess around, I guess,” Gross said of the play. “I never re­ally thought we were go­ing to take it out of the hat, but we did and it worked.”

Patux­ent (8-1, 4-1 SMAC Ch­e­sa­peake) had scored just 51 sec­onds ear­lier, when Crounse hooked up with My­ron Young for a 32-yard touch­down. The Pan­thers had taken over on that se­ries at their own 39 with 1 minute 38 sec­onds left in the half and needed just four plays and 47 sec­onds to put the ball in the end zone. The one-two punch at the half’s end took any re­main­ing drama out of a game that had been just 7-0 at the end of a quar­ter.

“I’m re­ally proud of the two-minute drill at the end of the first half. That was a clin- ic,” Patux­ent head coach Steve Crounse said. “We work on it all the time, but we don’t real- ly get to use it. We don’t re­ally have a big enough team to be a no-hud­dle team. We have guys go­ing both ways, but in that sit- ua­tion the kids did a great job. We popped a cou­ple of runs and made some key throws. Then I was real happy that we got Jael- en on the dou­ble pass, let him let it rip a lit­tle bit.”

Prior to the pair of touch­down drives in the half’s fi­nal minute, Crounse had thrown touch­down passes to Young and Von­nie Watkins that, com­bined with a 25-yard Dixon field goal, had given the Pan­thers a 16-0 lead.

Af­ter Crounse and Young had hooked up for their sec- ond touch­down com­bi­na­tion to in­crease the lead to 23-0, Stone (4-5, 3-3) started its next se­ries at its own 40. With just 11 sec- onds show­ing as the Cougars faced fourth down, they went for it and turned the ball over on downs with :04 still on the clock, giv­ing the Pan­thers one shot at the end zone which ended with Tor­ney’s touch­down re­cep­tion.

“We’ve worked on it in prac- tice. It was a beau­ti­fully ex­e­cut- ed play,” Tor­ney said. “Jae­len, I saw him step back, I jogged off the line fake and ran. I just knew that I had it. It was a beau­ti­fully thrown ball. It was a good way to cap off the half.”

The Pan­thers re­ceived the open­ing kick­off of the sec- ond half and marched straight down­field, with Taz­man Da- vis scor­ing on a 19-yard run to push the game into a run­ning clock sit­u­a­tion.

Stone broke up the shut- out with 3:17 left in the fourth quar­ter when Jonathan Har­ris hooked up with Tae­jon Gray on a 38-yard touch­down pass. But the clock was not in run- ning mo­tion for less than half a minute, as on the next play from scrim­mage Josh Capra ripped off a 59-yard touch­down run to close the game’s scor­ing.

The night got off to a less-than-op­ti­mal start for the Pan­thers as they lost full­back Yanni Gard­ner to in­jury in the first quar­ter, But the team’s of- fense turned in a rather pro­lific per­for­mance, rolling up close to 500 yards, while the de­fense nearly pitched its third shutout of the sea­son. Patux­ent has al­lowed an op­pos­ing team to score in dou­ble dig­its just once through nine games.

“We had some ad­ver­sity early when Yanni went down,” Steve Crounse said. “That’s a full­back and D-tackle. We don’t have any­body that’s re­ally ready to step into that spot, so that takes us out of our whole per­son­nel pack­age and part of the game plan. We were run­ning the ball well early un­til he got hurt . ... I’m happy with the de­fense. [Stone] still has some ath­letes that were a part of those play­off teams. They run hard and they popped a cou­ple of runs. But again, our de­fense stood up, made a cou­ple of ad­just­ments and I’m re­ally happy with the ef­fort.”

Stone, which had de­feated Patux­ent in each of the pre­vi­ous two years, both years in which the Cougars reached the play- offs, will close its sea­son at Hun- tingtown at 7 p.m. Fri­day ver­sus a Hur­ri­canes team that lost 35-7 to North Point in Week 9. Stone first-year head coach Danny Rip­ple was look­ing for his team to close out the sea­son on a pos- itive note.

“I’m proud of our guys. I thought they played hard and they were en­gaged and they wanted to do well all night,” he said. “I think at times they did. We have to be­come more dis­ci­plined. I thought penal­ties were an is­sue for us tonight. It seemed like every time we were get­ting a lit­tle mo­men­tum a penalty would kind of stall our mo­men­tum. You can’t do that when you’re play­ing a de­fend­ing state cham­pion.

“We’re mov­ing on from Patux­ent al­ready. We’re ex­cited to work for four days and go over and give Hunt­ing­town a game. We can build some mo­men­tum for the off­sea­son and send the se­niors off right.”

With the win at Stone, Patux­ent se­cured its berth in the Class 2A South Re­gion play­offs. The de­fend­ing 2A state cham­pi­ons Pan­thers still could at­tain the re­gion’s top seed de­pend­ing on all of the Week 10 re­sults. For their part, Patux­ent will host West­lake at 7 p.m. Fri­day ver­sus a Wolver­ines team that lost 21-14 to Calvert in Week 9.

“West­lake poses the same prob­lems as [Stone],” Crounse said. “They al­ways have some kids who can run. We’re go­ing to have to ex­e­cute. [West­lake quar­ter­back Chad] Palmer, it’s his last game and I’m sure he’s go­ing to try to light it up. He’s a dy­namic kid we can’t let get out of the pocket. He’s a great high school foot­ball player.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.