Lions blank Indians, reach 7-1
D’Angelo passes for a pair of TDs, while Hickman runs for two
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:
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.