Lions win behind ground game
QA’s racks up 457 yards rushing, defense stout in blowout against SD
CENTREVILLE — The feel-good atmosphere of homecoming may have played a bit part.
But what really had Queen Anne’s County High’s football team feeling good about itself Saturday afternoon was its 55-6 shellacking of Stephen Decatur that extended the Lions’ winning streak to three.
“We could be the best in the Bayside (Conference),” senior inside linebacker Tyler Bonner said of a defense that held the Seahawks to just one first down on 10 possessions.
“Our offensive line is probably, I think, one of the best in the Bayside,” senior running back Brandon Hickman said after carrying eight times for 184 yards and three touchdowns to pace a 457-yard rushing attack.
Even Queen Anne’s head coach Donny Graef, who earned his 160th career win, was pleased, though even-keeled, with perhaps his team’s most dominant performance of the season.
“I thought offensively we moved the ball well,” Graef said. “Brandon Hickman ran well. I thought he ran physical. All the backs played well. Line blocked well. (Defensively) I thought they played really well. I thought the tackling has improved. I think we’re happy.”
Though the Lions (6-1) were tied with North Caroline for the No. 2 seed in the Class 2A East Region playoff hunt entering yesterday’s game, their rout of the Seahawks (0-7) could strengthen their mental game down the final regularseason stretch, which includes dates with the defending region champion
Bulldogs and current unbeaten Kent Island.
“You can’t go by scores, but it definitely shows we could be top dog in the Bayside,” Bonner said.
Seven of Decatur’s 10 possessions ended with punts. The other three ended with time expiring in the first half, a blocked punt, and Avante Purnell breaking loose down the visiting sideline for a 69yard touchdown run against the Lions’ second-team defense on the game’s final play. Other than Purnell’s final burst, Queen Anne’s held the Seahawks to 28 yards in offense — all rushing.
In contrast, the Lions scored on eight of their 10 possessions — their only two misses coming on lost fumbles.
Queen Anne’s needed just four plays to reach the end zone for the first time, as Cordell Rogers (6 carries, 88 yards) scored on a 40-yard run. Despite two penalties on the extra-point attempt, Luke Metrinko drilled the first of his seven point-after kicks for a 7-0 lead with 8 minutes, 20 seconds in the first quarter.
“It’s all in the line,” Rogers said. “Yeah, we’re fast. But what it all comes down to is the line that’s doing all the work.”
Queen Anne’s offensive front continued opening avenues for whoever seemingly got the ball, including Jykel Garner, who gained 92 yards on just five carries. Touchdowns runs of 8 and 61 yards by Hickman fattened the Lions’ lead to 20-0 after the first quarter. Queen Anne’s failed to convert on the extra-point attempt because of a low snap from center. Not that it mattered. Though the Lions fumbled the ball away on their next possession at the Decatur 5-yard line, they added three more touchdowns in the final 6:44 of the first half. Garrett Bowen scored on a 3-yard run up the middle. Quarterback Mike D’Angelo, initially looking to pass, tucked the ball away and scored on a 7-yard keeper. After Decatur fumbled the ensuing kickoff 44 seconds before halftime, Queen Anne’s was back in the end zone in two plays, as Rogers again found an open seam through the middle for a 41-0 halftime bulge.
“I mean you have a team now, a (offensive) line with all seniors, we’ve been playing with each other ever since we were like eight years old,” Hickman said. “And now we are all back together and we’re faster, we’re stronger. It’s an amazing talent that we have in the line ... in the backfield ... everywhere.”
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half — which was played with a running clock — Hickman bolted 58 yards down the middle of the field for his third touchdown. Chris Crow’s 9-yard touchdown run — set up when sophomore Mike Clay blocked a Decatur punt — and Metrinko’s PAT made it 55-0 on the final play of the third quarter.
“Ever since that loss to Sussex Central, we’ve been on it ever y day,” Hickman said. “Our coaches are pushing us to make us better.”
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Queen Anne’s Cordell Rogers (23), who rushed six times for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns, follows the block of Jykel Garner during Saturday’s game against Stephen Decatur.
Queen Anne’s Brandon Hickman (17), who carried eight times for 184 yards, breaks loose for one of his three touchdowns runs Saturday against Stephen Decatur.