Lions keep Bucs from reaching 10-0
QA’s ground game, K. Island’s turnovers decide wild Chesapeake Cup, Bayside championship
Q. Anne’s 24 — K. Island 14
STEVENSVILLE — Routine occurrences are seldom present when the Queen Anne’s County and Kent Island high school football teams face off.
The latest clash for the Chesapeake Cup elevated that context to never-before-seen levels.
Friday’s evening’s Week 10 battle at Andy Schipul Stadium featured inexplicable fumbles, shanked punts, blocked field goals, big catches and bigger runs in what held true as the biggest of scenarios for the visiting Lions: survive and lock down the No. 2 seed in the Class 2A East Region playoffs.
And Queen Anne’s did just that, capturing a topsy-turvy contest in front of a massive throng in a 24-14 final, plundering the Buccaneers’ bid for a second 10-0 season to close a wild and often unpredictable chapter in what is arguably the Eastern Shore’s greatest sports rivalry.
“I think they know us so well, and I think we just know them so well, that it’s going to be one of those type of games,” Lions head coach Donny Graef said. “You just do what you can to prepare for it and hope to come out on top.
“I tell the kids all the time, that when you’re playing a good team, three and four yards, that’s a win,” Graef added. “Coming of f a 7-4 season last year, 9-1 sounds really good, so we’ll enjoy it tonight and try and get back to work on Monday.”
The 2A East postseason seeding is now set.
Kent Island (9-1) already clinched the No. 1 spot in the region prior to Week 10, and with Queen Anne’s (9-1), Elkton (9-1) and North Caroline (8-2) all winning its respective games, the
positions were unchanged following the reveal of the latest MPSSAA points standings.
The Bucs, who defeated the Bulldogs in Week 3, will host Caroline in the region semifinal, while the Lions will welcome Elkton to Centreville next Friday in the other semifinal.
Ravaged by uncharacteristic turnovers while feeling what is likely a considerable sting after missing out on an undefeated regular season, Bucs head coach Damian Ferragamo laid the situation out very plainly for his team.
And that situation is how quickly the Bucs are able to turn the page from a decidedly disastrous showing in front of a pumped-up home crowd.
“We’re going to find out, and hopefully it’s real quick,” Ferragamo said. “I hope it’s by the time they leave the locker room (tonight), because there’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves.
“All we were trying to do was win a football game,” Ferragamo added of the pomp and circumstance added in the county showdown. “We weren’t trying to go 10-0, we weren’t tr ying to beat Queen Anne’s, we were just trying to win a football game.”
Senior running back Jykel Garner tallied 115 yards on 12 carries for the Lions, while classmate and quarterback Mike D’Angelo racked up a tough 98 on 17 keepers.
Garner’s 46-yard touchdown dash in the third quarter where he was escorted in the secondary by three blockers, including a solid push from senior fullback Brandon Hickman in the open field, broke open the 7-7 halftime tie, Luke Metrinko’s point-after kick capping the drive and putting the Lions ahead to stay.
“At that point, we were just trying to do whatever was working for us,” Graef said. “The running plays we were running were working, and we just stayed with that, got a feel for what we could get, what we couldn’t get.”
The Lions’ only loss this season was to out-of-conference foe Sussex Central from Delaware; Queen Anne’s has outscored opponents 202-61 since that 2914, Week 4 setback.
“We know we had to be motivated, and we knew we had to face adversity,” Garner said, adding about the loss to Sussex, “we had to learn that we had to become one with the team, and become more of a family. We had to push ourselves every week to get better.”
Added D’Angelo: “We just came off a 49-7 win against a Washington team, and I think our heads were just too big against Sussex. I think the way we controlled our turnovers today, we played modestly, played hard, it made the difference.”
How the game unfolded just about defied all logic, considering the two programs have long been built on the fundamentals of
sound, mistake-free football.
The opening possession ended with a punt by the Lions’ Matt Bonner, the favor reciprocated by the Buccaneers’ Brandon Galloway following a Kent Island three-and-out. Queen Anne’s, despite some heady running from D’Angelo (7 yards), Hickman (8) and Garner (8) on consecutive plays, punted again following back-to-back false starts and a sack of D’Angelo by Austin Ryan for 9 yards.
Kent Island took over on the Lions’ 42 on a weak Bonner punt, but the drive stalled on the Queen Anne’s 17, setting up a 34-yard Bert Schrecongost field-goal try.
The snap on the 3-pointer came in tight, and Selby Scaggs’ hold was proper, but the Lions’ special teams was already in the backfield by the time Schrecongost wound up, and the boot was deflected by Bonner and recovered by teammate Chris Crow.
The momentum, however, did not swing, as Garner fumbled on second down, and Galloway pounced on the ball to regain possession for the Bucs.
The zaniness didn’t end there.
Possession changed for a third time in five snaps just two plays later.
Bucs’ senior running back Braden Doyle broke loose of the line and headed toward the zone. Just as Doyle was about to break the plane, the Lions’ defense made contact, and the ball squirted loose and rolled out of the end zone for a touchback.
“We did things in this game that you can’t do against good teams and expect to win,” Ferragamo said. “Most importantly, it’s putting the football on the ground, making those types of mistakes.
“I wish I knew what was going on, I’d correct it real quick,” Ferragamo added. “It’s a combination of bad luck and something mental, but it’s all been different situations.”
Another Bonner punt followed, this one taking a good bounce to Kent Island’s 19. Ryan then gained 3 yards on a run, plus a 15yard facemask penalty, and then shuffled middle to left for 14. Two plays later, junior quarterback Jordan Marciano found wideout Sean Mooney on a deep fade left over Jordan Callahan for 30 yards.
After Ryan cleared a yard on a fourth-and-inches run, he was in the end zone on the next snap, fighting through three defenders for the game’s first score.
The Lions got off to a poor start on the ensuing kickoff, as Hickman fielded the ball right outside his goal line and then his foot grazed the chalk on the 5; the drive went nowhere, and Bonner boomed a 61-yard punt to the Bucs’ 21. A 10-yard Cameron Bouie carry gave Kent Island a fresh set of downs, but Dylan Finlay dropped a third-down pass from Marciano, leading to another Galloway punt.
The kick was lofted well into Lions’ territory, glanced off Queen Anne’s Ryan Muller, and the Buccaneers’ Jake Hipps recovered it on the Lions’ 31. Kent Island’s overall good fortunes lasted just a few more seconds, as the first-down handoff to Doyle was botched, and Queen Anne’s senior Jordan Wilmer scooped it and dashed untouched the other way for a 71-yard TD.
Luke Metrinko converted the point-after, and despite totaling only 47 yards offense in the first 24 minutes, the Lions managed to take a 7-7 tie into the locker rooms.
“We were in the game at 7-7, at halftime, and that play Jordan made before the half was huge,” Graef said. “It gave us momentum, something positive going into the locker room. That was big for us, it’s not a mistake when he scoops and scores, because he has done it three or four times for us.”
The Buccaneers’ offense just about stalled in the second half, while the Lions’ running game began percolating.
Following another Galloway punt, Garner capped a 3½-minute, seven-play drive with his game-breaking 46yard scamper to make it 14-7. Kent Island committed its third turnover of the game on the next possession, again coming at the tail end of a long run, as Bouie lost the ball after gaining 30 yards on a run, recovered by the Lions’ Jordan Bennett.
Queen Anne’s settled for a 34-yard field goal by Metrinko off the turnover, but got it back again when Marciano’s pass into the end zone at the conclusion of an extended drive was tipped by Finlay and the Lions’ Jordan Callahan, leading to a Mikey Monroe interception in the end zone.
“The points were there on all the turnovers, like throwing an interception in the end zone,” Ferragamo said. “Those are huge plays, but Queen Anne’s made them, or we made the mistakes, but I don’t want to take any- thing away from their victory at all. They came in, and they won the football game.”
The Lions turned that miscue into a 50-yard C.J. Rogers TD run, who blasted through the line and was off to the races against the Bucs’ Michael Scott.
A roughing-the-passer penalty on third down kept Kent Island’s next drive going, and Marciano ended a Buccaneer scoring drought — and a 24-0 Lions run — by hitting Mooney on a jumpball over Muller for 28 yards and a touchdown to cap the affair.
Mooney finished with three grabs for 78 yards, while Marciano threw a late pick for the Buccaneers’ fifth turnover, and ended his night 6-for-19 passing and 106 yards.
“I just think we had a lot of mental errors throughout the game,” Mooney said. “We need to fix those, and if we clean those up, I feel like the score would have been different tonight.
“I thought we were ready all week, and in the first half we showed it, because let up zero points on defense,” Mooney added. “That fumble (Wilmer’s TD) changed the momentum of the game.”
Queen Anne’s finished with 305 yards total offense on 48 plays, while Kent Island mustered 279 on 53 snaps. Ryan’s 81 yards on 19 carries paced the Buccaneers; Bouie totaled 41 on only three handoffs.
The Lions abandoned the passing game after the first half, when D’Angelo was only 1 of 5 for 5 yards, racking up 255 yards rushing after the break. D’Angelo calmly ran a read-option offense in the second half while Garner and Rogers eventually found the running lanes loosening up, leading to the highest point total scored against Kent Island all season.
“The line just came out with a different attitude in the second half,” D’Angelo said of the turnaround. “We picked up on all our blocks and I give all the credit to them. We’ve done that throughout the season, start off sluggish in the first half, and it’s something we need to work on.
“As much as the rivalry matters, and it’s a huge community thing, our eyes are on the playoffs,” D’Angelo added. “Winning the rivalry game is great, getting the Chesapeake Cup, Bayside champions is great, but, at the end of the day, playoffs are what really matters and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
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Queen Anne’s Gabrielle Corder, left, moves the ball upfield under pressure from Patterson Mill’s Julia Frankis during a Class 1A state semifinal Monday evening at Broadneck High School.