Rams hold on to beat Warriors
McDonough wins, gets help needed to reach 1A North playoffs
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.
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.