Foot­ball teams elim­i­nated in play­offs

Foot­ball team elim­i­nated by Patux­ent in 2A South semis

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @cfh­philly

They may still be the de­fend­ing Class 2A state foot­ball cham­pi­ons, but as the Patux­ent Pan­thers took the field for Fri­day night’s 2A South Re­gion semi­fi­nal against the vis­it­ing Lackey Charg­ers there was no get­ting around one sim­ple fact: Lackey shut out the Pan­thers when they met in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Patux­ent made sure that re­sult was not du­pli­cated, scor­ing on its first posses- sion and ul­ti­mately cruis­ing to a 28-14 win.

The Pan­thers (10-1 over­all) ad­vanced to their fourth straight re­gional fi­nal. They will host county ri­val Calvert at 7 p.m. Fri­day with a spot in the state semi­fi­nals on the line. Patux­ent de­feated the Cava­liers 23-8 when the teams met on Oct. 8, while the ri­vals split a pair of meet­ings last year, with the Pan­thers tak­ing a 9-7 play­off de­ci­sion on the way to the state champi- on­ship.

Against Lackey, Patux- ent knew ex­actly what it was up against and was de­ter­mined to avenge its only loss of the sea­son, that a 3-0 short­com­ing on a soggy Sept. 30 night.

“Dur­ing prac­tice we were very in­tense, very se­ri­ous,” Patux­ent’s Von­nie Watkins said. “We came in know­ing what we had to do and we just got it done.”

That started with an ear- ly de­fen­sive stand for the Pan­thers.

Lackey (8-3) took the game’s open­ing kick and quickly moved down to the Patux­ent 33-yard line. But on a fourth dow­nand-3 play, the Pan­thers stopped Lackey’s Ma­lik Burns, who sur­passed the 2,000-yard plateau in the reg­u­lar sea­son, a yard short of a first down. Patux­ent then got to work im­me­di­ately on of­fense.

Taz­man Davis rushed for 12 yards on the Pan- thers’ first play, set­ting the tone for what was to come. Nine plays later, Davis took the ball into the end zone on a 6-yard rush to end the hosts’ score­less streak against the Charg­ers with 4 min- utes 36 sec­onds left to play in the first quar­ter.

“We def­i­nitely wanted to fix the mis­takes we had last time. We turned the ball over a lot last time, and our of­fen­sive line stepped up re­ally big tonight,” Patux­ent quar- ter­back Reese Crounse said. “It def­i­nitely was [im­por­tant to score ear- ly] be­cause we didn’t score last time. That first touch­down was def­i­nitely a sigh of re­lief. We proved we could score.”

Lackey took the lead mid­way through the sec- ond quar­ter when Burns bull­dozed his way across the goal line from five yards out to cap a 79-yard drive. The touch­down had been set up by a 69yard rush by Burns. Brett Cul­hane’s suc­cess­ful ex- tra point put the Charg­ers up 7-6. Un­for­tu­nately for them, the lead was short­lived.

Tak­ing over at their own 41 to start the en- su­ing pos­ses­sion, the Pan­thers needed just six plays to jump back in front. Crounse scored on a 6-yard rush, while Hunt- er Young­blood booted through the ex­tra point to give the hosts a 13-7 lead, which they took to the half.

Re­ceiv­ing the sec- ond-half kick­off, Patux- ent quickly added to its lead in the third quar­ter. Crounse hooked up with Watkins on a screen pass that turned into a 61-yard play, mov­ing the Pan­thers into the red zone. After the next three plays yielded noth­ing, the tan­dem again hooked up for a 14yard gain to con­vert on fourth down.

Two plays later, Crounse scored his sec­ond touch­down on a 2-yard rush. The Pan­thers then con- verted a two-point con­ver- sion pass, with Joel Tor- ney on the re­ceiv­ing end, to run the lead out to 21-7.

Reyquon Hol­land added a rush­ing touch­down late in the fourth quar­ter for Patux­ent to in­crease the lead to 28-7. Lackey fol­lowed with a quick touch­down, as Burns scored one fi­nal touch­down on the ground with 40 sec- onds left to close the fi­nal gap to 28-14.

Burns fin­ished the night with 195 yards on the ground and, also tak- ing snaps through much of the game, picked up 63 yards pass­ing on three com­ple­tions. But the Charg­ers did not have enough to find a way past Patux­ent on Fri­day night.

“We thought we could do some dif­fer­ent things of­fen­sively and I thought we did it,” Lackey head coach John Lush said. “A cou­ple of times we didn’t cap­i­tal­ize, but de­fen­sively we just couldn’t get off the field. That was two weeks in a row and, hon­estly, they took it to us physi- cally. If you can’t get off the field, it’s go­ing to be a long night.”

Patux­ent rolled up 19 first downs on Fri­day, rush­ing for close to 250 yards while also ex­ceed­ing 150 through the air. That added up to an open- ing-round elim­i­na­tion for Lackey.

“Ev­ery­body is go­ing to be un­happy other than one team in the state, when it’s all said and done. Our num­ber was called this week­end,” Lush said. “It’s a tough place to play, com­ing down here. [Patux­ent head coach Steve] Crounse does a great job and has a great pro­gram. But th­ese se­niors, where they were as fresh­men to where they are now, there was in­cred­i­ble growth on the field and off the field. We had a lot of ac­co­lades for a lot of th­ese kids that they didn’t see com­ing. They’ll be able to look back on it in a few weeks and ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

Reese Crounse rushed for over 100 yards and com­pleted 9 of 17 passes for 155. Watkins was on the re­ceiv­ing end of five of those com­ple­tions, those go­ing for 114 yards. Da- vis trig­gered the of­fense early, and fin­ished with 81 yards on 15 car­ries.

“The game plan was to try to keep it bal­anced, so we were pretty much on pace,” Steve Crounse said. “The big thing is Taz­man did a great job of run- ning the ball, get­ting us 5-yard runs, 6-yard runs, keep­ing us on sched­ule. We were on sched­ule all night. We had a false start in the be­gin­ning and that’s what we were re­ally harp­ing on all week. The last game it was false start, be­hind the sticks. Taz kept us on sched­ule so that our pass­ing game was more ef­fec­tive. They have to play both.

“I thought Reese did a great job of man­ag­ing the game. He ran the ball hard when he needed to. He’s not a break­away kid, but he’s go­ing to give you the phys­i­cal run. But Taz­man is was pretty much the cat­a­lyst on of­fense as far as get­ting those runs and keep­ing us on sched­ule. The of­fen­sive line did a great job, way more phys­i­cal than they’ve been. That was kind of a point of em­pha­sis for us this week.”

De­feat­ing Lackey gave Patux­ent the chance to play for the re­gion crown for the fourth straight year. The Pan­thers won the re­gion two of those years, win­ning the state cham­pi­onship last year while fin­ish­ing as the state run­ner-up in 2013. In 2014 the team lost to Prince Ge­orge’s County’s Dou­glass, which went on to win the state ti­tle. Find­ing re­demp­tion against Lackey was the first step of what the Pan­thers hope is an­other lengthy post­sea­son run.

“Lackey is a tremen­dous team, and Burns is — he’s so much faster than peo­ple think,” Steve Crounse said. “They’ve done a great job all year and they did a great job game plan­ning for this game. They had some wrin­kles they haven’t shown all year. That’s what play­off foot­ball is all about.”

PHOTO BY MIKE RUDY

Patux­ent’s Von­nie Watkins, left, tries to slow down Lackey’s Ma­lik Burns while Patux­ent’s Reyquon Hol­land waits to try to get in on the tackle dur­ing the teams’ 2A South play­off game at Patux­ent on Fri­day night. Patux­ent won 28-14.

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