Lions win be­hind ground game

QA’s racks up 457 yards rush­ing, de­fense stout in blowout against SD

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

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.”

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

PHOTO BY WIL­LIAM HAUFE

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.

PHOTO BY WIL­LIAM HAUFE

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.

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