Rams hold on to beat War­riors

McDonough wins, gets help needed to reach 1A North play­offs

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

Through the first three quar- ters of Fri­day’s con­test, the McDonough High School football team looked more like a poten- tial play­off team.

McDonough owned a 6-0 half­time lead over La Plata, but it quickly tripled that mar­gin on con­sec­u­tive scores to start the third quar­ter and the hosts looked well on their way to a vic­tory. Both teams recorded big plays dur­ing the South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence Ch­e­sa­peake Di­vi­sion con­test, but it was the in­abil­ity to ex­e­cute on the small ones that proved to be the dif­fer­ence as the Rams lasted for a 32-26 vic­tory.

The win pro­pelled Mc- Donough (3-7, 1-5 SMAC Ches- apeake) past Jop­pa­towne of Har­ford County and Fair­mount Heights of Prince Ge­orge’s County into the Class 1A North Re­gion play­offs when the brack- ets were re­leased by the Mary- land Pub­lic Sec­ondary Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion on Sun­day morn­ing. The Rams head to Prince Ge­orge’s County to take on Sur­rattsville at 1 p.m. Satur­day for a 1A North semi­fi­nal game.

“When we got here tonight, we knew we had a chance to make the play­offs,” said McDonough first-year head coach and for­mer player Jonathan Briscoe. “We knew we had to win and that we needed some help. But our fo­cus was just on play­ing a good game against a good team. It got pretty in­ter­est­ing at the end.”

Nei­ther team had shown much ini­tia­tive in the first half when McDonough forged a late 6-0 lead on a 1-yard quar­ter­back

sneak by Brant But­ler on the its fourth play of the sec­ond quar­ter. La Plata nearly drew even be­fore half­time when quar­ter- back Jor­dan Sin­clair

con­nected with Stephen Cobb on a 43-yard pass down the right side­line which gave the War­riors a first down and goal at the Rams 4-yard line.

Sin­clair was sup­posed to spike the ball on first down to stop the clock, but re­ceived the wrong

sig­nal from the side­lines and in­stead at­tempted a quar­ter­back sneak. On sec­ond down, Sin­clair had an­other chance to spike the ball and stop the clock, but again the ju­nior quar­ter­back at­tempted to plow for­ward and fum­bled and the Rams re­cov­ered to pre­serve the half­time lead.

“To sum­ma­rize our sea- son, much of what we did was self-in­flicted,” La Plata sec­ond-year head coach Rod Mil­stead said. “We were sup­posed to spike the ball there, but we had a com­mu­ni­ca­tion mis­take. So in­stead of com­ing away with points be­fore half- time we turned the ball

over. It was how our sea- son went.”

Sin­clair was in­ter­cept- ed on his sec­ond pass of the third quar­ter and Mc- Donough went 62 yards in 10 plays to dou­ble their lead as Mes­siah Orig­i­nal plowed for­ward from one yard out. On the War­riors’ next pos­ses­sion, Sin­clair fum­bled and the Rams needed only two plays to pad their ad­van­tage with Orig­i­nal again scor­ing from one yard out for an 18-0 lead.

La Plata (2-8, 0-6) fi­nally got on the board when it capped a 7-play, 60-yard drive with a 3-yard touch­down run by Aaron Hernandez that trimmed the

deficit to 18-8. Af­ter the Rams re­sponded with an­other drive capped by a 5-yard run by Orig­i­nal, Hernandez coun­tered with a 5-yard run that nar- rowed the gap to 25-14.

When La Plata re­cov­ered the en­su­ing on­sides kick and nar­rowed the deficit to 25-20 when Sin­clair con- nected with Wil­liam Mead- ows on a 16-yard scor­ing strike, McDonough’s slim hopes of reach­ing the post­sea­son ap­peared to be di­min­ish­ing un­til an- other long run by Orig­i­nal flipped the field and left the War­riors pinned deep in their own ter­ri­tory.

Facing fourth down and 6 from its own 5 with just over two min­utes re­main­ing, La Plata opted to go for it. McDonough’s Jor­dan Ban­kett vir­tu­ally sealed the ver­dict when he in­ter­cepted a Sin­clair pass and re­turned it 15 yards for a touch­down that gave the Rams a 32-20 lead.

La Plata hardly sur­ren­dered at that point, needed only six plays to march 60 yards and nar­rowed the gap to 32-26 when Hernandez found the end zone from six yards out for his third touch­down of the night. But the Rams re­cov­ered the en­su­ing on­sides kick and But­ler was able to take a knee on the fi­nal two snaps to end it.

PHOTO BY TERESE GETGEN

Line­men from La Plata High School and McDonough High clash in the trenches in Fri­day night’s con­test. McDonough even­tu­ally pre­vailed 32-26 to earn a berth in the 1A North Re­gion play­offs this week­end at Sur­rattsville, while La Plata fin­ished the sea­son 2-8.

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