Lions keep it ba­sic, get sec­ond wind

Of­fen­sive line pushes War­riors around for 3 TDs in the third

Record Observer - - Sports - By WIL­LIAM HAUFE bhaufe@stardem.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — No­body yanked down a flimsy old movie screen for a quick pow­erpoint ses­sion, or went di­a­gram crazy on the chalk­board in a fran­tic ef­fort to de­sign some spurof-the-mo­ment series of trick plays.

In­stead, Queen Anne’s County High’s football team, down one point in a game that fig­ured to shape the Class 2A East Re­gion play­off field, shuf­fled into its field house at half­time and lis­tened to some ba­sicblock­ing talk.

The Lions came out of the locker room, reeled off touch­down drives on their first three sec­ond-half

pos­ses­sions Friday night, but still needed Jor­dan Cal­la­han’s in­ter­cep­tion with a lit­tle over a minute re­main­ing be­fore ce­ment­ing a 26-20 vic­tory over Eas­ton.

“Half­time, we talked to the kids about a cou­ple of things,” Queen Anne’s head coach Donny Graef said. “(Of­fen­sive line) Coach (Dave) Per­rillo did a nice job with the of­fen­sive line, set­tling them down, and we came out and played bet­ter in the sec­ond half.”

Other than quar­ter­back Mike D’An­gelo’s 50-yard touch­down pass to Bran­don Hick­man that ended a 71-yard, two-play pos­ses­sion, and shaved Eas­ton’s lead to 7-6 with just un­der 5 min­utes re­main­ing in the first quar­ter, Queen Anne’s (5-1) man­aged just 40 yards on seven first-half pos­ses­sions.

“I think Eas­ton has a great de­fense in gen­eral,” D’An­gelo said. “They de­fended the pass well, and their pass rush is in­sane, man. They’ve got a ton of ath­letes up there. They got good pen­e­tra­tion.”

“They put a lot of pres­sure on him,” Graef said of D’An­gelo, who was sacked eight times in the game. “We knew num­ber nine (Eas­ton out­side line­backer Zack Strand) was tough com­ing off the edge. We had a cou­ple of missed as­sign­ments, but they played re­ally well on de­fense.”

But in the sec­ond half, cen­ter Jor­dan Wa­ters, guards Chuckie Lansinger and Gar­rett Deese, tack­les Kean Shana­han and Trent Riggs, and tight end Tyler Bon­ner stopped Eas­ton’s pen­e­tra­tion and opened lanes for D’An­gelo, Jykel Gar­ner (11 car­ries, game­high 137 yards) and Bran­don Hick­man (five car­ries, 69 yards).

“I think we just found some base plays that worked; looked at things that we had a lit­tle bit of suc­cess with in the first half,” said Graef, whose team fin­ished with 259 yards rush­ing. “So we picked the four or five plays that we had a lit­tle bit of suc­cess with in the first half and we just blocked it bet­ter; stayed on our blocks.

“Noth­ing spe­cial. Noth­ing new. Noth­ing drawn up, or any­thing like that,” Graef added. “Just kept do­ing what we were do­ing well in the first half. I thought all the run­ning backs played well the sec­ond half. Maybe we played to our strength more the sec­ond half than we did the first half.”

Queen Anne’s re­ceived the sec­ond-half kick­off and trav­eled 62 yards on four plays and one penalty, as D’An­gelo scored on an 11-yard run. Gar­ner was stuffed on the two-point con­ver­sion at­tempt — the War­riors’ sec­ond straight two-point stop — and the Lions led 12-7 with 2:14 gone in the third quar­ter.

Af­ter an Eas­ton three­and-out, Queen Anne’s moved from its 32 to the War­rior 46, where Gar­ner

was sprung on a counter for a 46-yard touch­down dash with 5:26 left in the third quar­ter. Luke Metrinko’s ex­tra point made it 19-7.

“Up front early on, our D line re­ally got some good pen­e­tra­tion,” Eas­ton head coach Matt Grif­fith said. “They run counter just as good as any­body I’ve ever seen run it. To stop counter you’ve got to have pen­e­tra­tion. They came out, they got us in the third quar­ter. We were a lit­tle flat, we didn’t get the pen­e­tra­tion up front that we needed. We were do­ing a good job main­tain­ing the edge, but they were cut­ting it back up in­side which is some­thing they do, and they do it very well.”

The War­riors (4-2) an­swered with an eight-play, 76-yard march that was capped by Ma­son Led­ford’s 23-yard touch­down pass to T.J. Nixon, draw­ing Eas­ton within 19-13 with 3:26 left in the third quar­ter.

The Lions needed 1:06 to re­store their two-score cush­ion. Start­ing from the Lions’ 24, Hick­man fun­neled his way through the mid­dle for a 39-yard gain. Gar­ner picked up 17 yards. Hick­man’s 6-yard pickup and a face­mask penalty on Eas­ton pushed Queen Anne’s to the War­rior 7, where Hick­man found a seam on the left side cre­ated by Lansinger, Riggs and Bon­ner for a touch­down. Metrinko’s point-af­ter kick gave Queen Anne’s a 26-13 lead with 2:23 left in the third quar­ter.

“I think just the O line picked it up as a whole in the sec­ond half,” D’An­gelo said. “They did a great job. Best block­ing that I’ve seen all sea­son. I think I was for­tu­nate to find some holes in the sec­ond half, and I think the run­ning backs as a whole were for­tu­nate to find some holes. Again, credit to the O line for that.”

While the Lions fo­cused on a hand­ful of run­ning plays in the sec­ond half, Graef said they were also play­ing ball con­trol in hopes of keep­ing the ball out of Led­ford’s hands.

Af­ter com­plet­ing just 1 of 8 in poor weather con­di­tions dur­ing last Saturday’s 22-20 vic­tory at Kent County, Eas­ton’s ju­nior quar­ter­back came out fling­ing against the Lions. Led­ford threw on 10 of the War­riors’ first 12 plays, his 10th pass a 10-yard scor­ing strike to Nixon that — along with Wal­ter Mor­ris’ point-af­ter kick — gave Eas­ton a 7-0 lead with un­der 6 min­utes left in the first quar­ter.

Led­ford com­pleted just 4 of 10 for 26 yards the re­main­der of the first half, but then heated up in the third quar­ter.

Af­ter the Lions ex­tended their lead to 19-7, Led­ford com­pleted 4 of 6 on the en­su­ing drive that ended with his sec­ond touch­down pass to Nixon (five re­cep­tions, 102 yards).

Queen Anne’s again stretched its lead, and again Led­ford drove the War­riors down­field, com­plet­ing 5 of 6 in a 55-yard drive that ended with Matt Far­row (7-67) snag­ging a 5-yard scor­ing dart and Mor­ris drilling the point af­ter on the fi­nal play of the third quar­ter, pulling Eas­ton within 26-20.

“Ev­ery­thing’s on the money,” Graef said of Led­ford, who com­pleted 29 of 45 for 278 yards and three touch­downs. “The ball’s out of his hand quick. He can scram­ble just enough to keep you hon­est in your pass rush and your lanes. And if he needs to pick up a few yards with his feet he can do that, too. He’s just an im­pres­sive kid. I’m sure if he stays healthy he’s go­ing to put up some record num­bers there at Eas­ton.

Still down six with 2:37 re­main­ing, Eas­ton drove from its 10 to Queen Anne’s 48, where on fourth down Led­ford hit Far­row, who bat­tled his way for ex­tra yardage on an 18-yard gain that gave the War­riors a first down on the Lions’ 30. But Led­ford’s fi­nal throw of the game sailed over Nixon and into Cal­la­han’s hands with 1:05 re­main­ing, seal­ing the win.

“Ma­son had a great game,” Grif­fith said. “He did a nice job man­ag­ing the of­fense. He took what they gave him. Didn’t force too many things. I think there may have been one in the first half where he forced the ball. Be­sides that, I thought he made great de­ci­sions all night long and did ev­ery­thing we asked him to do.”

Notes: Queen Anne’s held Eas­ton to 32 yards rush­ing on 15 car­ries … Led­ford was in­ter­cepted in the first half by Mike Clay . ... Eas­ton’s TreQuan Thomas had 8 re­cep­tions for 89 yards and Tahjiere Nixon had eight catches for 56.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Bil­l_Haufe. Email me at bhaufe@stardem.com

PHOTO BY WIL­LIAM HAUFE

Queen Anne’s Jykel Gar­ner (9), who gained 137 yards on 11 car­ries, fol­lows the lead of Bran­don Hick­man (17) dur­ing last Friday’s game against Eas­ton.

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