Lions blank In­di­ans, reach 7-1

D’An­gelo passes for a pair of TDs, while Hick­man runs for two

Record Observer - - Sports - By DAVID INS­LEY dins­ley@star­dem.com

SAL­IS­BURY — Bran­don Hick­man couldn’t fig­ure out, even af­ter the game, how the foot­ball just bounced right to him.

“Hon­estly, I was think­ing about it the whole game after­wards,” the Queen Anne’s County High se­nior run­ning back said, “and I still don’t know how it hap­pened. I just saw it there; Mikey [Mon­roe] had it, and I thought they [Wi­comico] were gonna come up with it . ... But it just bounced right into my hands.”

On a first-and-10 carry by Mon­roe from the Wi-Hi 24-yard line, the ball came loose at the 17, and went di­rectly into the hands of Hick­man, who cov­ered the re­main­ing yardage for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead late in the first half.

The touchdown was the first of two by Hick­man, as Queen Anne’s ran the clock in the sec­ond half en route to a 38-0 vic­tor y.

The Lions (7-1) host North Caro­line in a piv­otal Class 2A East Re­gion bat­tle next Fri­day, while the In­di­ans (3-5) wel­come Eas­ton to Wi­comico County Sta­dium’s Char­lie Berry Field.

“We played well all night,” Hick­man said. “This was just lucky for us, but the guys, they played great all night.”

Queen Anne’s solid play be­gan on the first drive, af­ter it won the toss.

Re­ceiv­ing the open­ing kickof f at its 20, Queen Anne’s drove into Wi-Hi ter­ri­tory be­fore back-to­back rush­ing plays for losses set

up a third-and-24 at the Lions’ 48. Quar­ter­back Mike D’An­gelo dashed right on a 20-yard keeper, but fac­ing a fourth-and-4; the Lions chose to go for it.

Jykel Garner got the first down and a lot more, fly­ing left on an off-tackle run good for the last 32 yards and a touchdown. Luke Metrinko’s point-af­ter kick made it 7-0 three min­utes into play.

Queen Anne’s didn’t punt all night, though Metrinko did kick a 20-yard field goal to make it 10-0 with three min­utes left in the open­ing pe­riod.

Wi-Hi couldn’t get any­thing go­ing of­fen­sively, manag­ing just 15 yards and one first down on its first five pos­ses­sions. Queen Anne’s out­gained the In­di­ans 365-154 on the night. D’An­gelo was 9-for-14 pass­ing, for 134 yards and a pair of touch­downs.

“They were slant­ing to the mo­tion, so a lit­tle bit of the counter game worked,” Lions head coach Donny Graef said. “We got some big plays early, and I think that got our guys go­ing a lit­tle bit. I thought we were a lit­tle flat be­fore the game, but we picked it up, got some pos­i­tive things go­ing.

“I was re­ally wor­ried about Wi-Hi,” Graef added. “It’s a dif­fer­ent of­fense from what you see. I mean, I thought they’d get some big plays, but penal­ties hurt them a lot. For us, the counter game worked and I thought Mike threw the ball pretty well.”

D’An­gelo’s first pass­ing score, a 31-yarder to Tyler Bon­ner, made it 17-0 early in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Start­ing on the In­di­ans’ 47 on their next pos­ses­sion, the Lions drove to the 24 on four plays, Garner’s 8-yard run giv­ing Queen Anne’s a first down. Mon­roe, run­ning left on a counter, was hit at the 17, pop­ping the ball loose. In the per­fect place, Hick­man scooped it up and weaved through the se­condary for the score that made it 24-0.

Hick­man’s next scor­ing run, a 36-yarder on the third play of Queen Anne’s next pos­ses­sion, made it 31-0 with 2:16 to go in the half. On Wi-Hi’s en­su­ing se­ries, Graef called time in the fi­nal minute of the half, hop­ing to get one more score to set up the sec­ond-half run­ning clock.

It worked; Chris Crow in­ter­cepted Wi­comico quar­ter­back Ja­son Pat­ter­son down the left side­line, and re­turned from the Lions’ 48 to the Wi-Hi 39, with 30 sec­onds to go.

Af­ter an in­com­ple­tion, Bon­ner caught a pass in the right flat, and shook off a would-be tack­ler, dash­ing to the 7-yard line. D’An­gelo found Wy­att Pin­der on the next play for a touchdown with 3.2 sec­onds re­main­ing. Metrinko’s fifth PAT in as many tries made it 38-0.

“The penal­ties re­ally hurt a lot,” Wi-Hi head coach Brian Han­son said. “And that’s part of the mat­u­ra­tion process; you’ve got kids learn­ing a new of­fense and mis­takes are go­ing to be made. But if you have a case of where you need seven on the line and you get a flag for a pro­ce­dure penalty be­cause you only have six, then that’s not on them, that’s on us, the coaches, for not get­ting them po­si­tioned right.

“Still, for where we be­gan the sea­son, learn­ing a new of­fense, learn­ing the de­fense, I think we’ve come a long way,” Han­son said. “We only won twice last year; we have three wins now, and two more games left.”

Wi­comico was whis­tled for 13 penal­ties, for around 140 yards. The In­di­ans’ big­gest run, a jaunt of more than 50 yards by Shieem Brit­ting­ham to the Queen Anne’s 4, was called back in the third quar­ter due to an il­le­gal chop-block. The In­di­ans had 132 yards rush­ing on 20 car­ries in their mostly op­tion-based of­fense. Pat­ter­son com­pleted 2 of 8 for 22 yards and an in­ter­cep­tion.

“We’ve been prac­tic­ing hard, day in, day out,” said Hick­man, who led all rush­ers with 97 yards on 12 touches. “And I’m glad to see how this one turned out. The of­fense did well, the de­fense played great. I hope we can do it next week too.”

The last two reg­u­lar-sea­son games for the Lions, Hick­man said, “are just huge. We’ve got two play­off teams we have to play; we want to get even for los­ing to North Caro­line last year, and we know if we lose ei­ther of the last two games, at 8-2, two losses, you might not get into the play­offs this year.”

The Lions fin­ish the reg­u­lar sea­son on Nov. 4 at county ri­val Kent Is­land . ... The shutout is the first for the Lions since a 70-0, Week 3 drub­bing of Washington last year. Fol­low me on Twit­ter:

@Davetalkss­ports.

PHOTO BY WIL­LIAM HAUFE

Eas­ton quar­ter­back Ma­son Led­ford, left, looks down­field as Kent Is­land’s Jor­dan Walker (15) and Frank Ro­tondo (44) close in dur­ing Fri­day night’s sec­ond half.

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