Greener Pas­tures

Tro­jans QB stel­lar in team’s first de­feat of C-SD in 21 years, lead­ing to state semi­fi­nal berth

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

CAM­BRIDGE — Mar­c­quan Greene scram­bled back, two Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester High de­fend­ers chas­ing him as he tried keep­ing them out of reach as long as pos­si­ble as the play broke down.

Af­ter a few sec­onds, jink­ing right, then cir­cling left, Kent County’s se­nior quar­ter­back slid at mid­field for a 17-yard loss, on the last play of Fri­day night’s Class 1A East Re­gion foot­ball cham­pi­onship.

Had any­one been told be­fore kick­off the game would end in such a man­ner, they’d have prob­a­bly fig­ured the Tro­jans would have lost to the Vik­ings yet again. Af­ter all, C-SD had won the last 25 straight. But not the 26th. Greene’s fi­nal touch, es­sen­tially a kneel-down, with a back­ward scram­ble added to kill a few more sec­onds off the game clock, capped a dom­i­nant per­for­mance, as the Tro­jans fi­nally broke the Vik­ings’ grip on their ri­valry with a 28-22 win that saw Kent rally twice in the sec­ond half.

The Tro­jans ad­vance to next Satur­day’s 1 p.m. state semi­fi­nal at un­beaten and three-time-de­fend­ing state cham­pion Fort Hill.

“I can’t de­scribe it. I just can’t even tell you how good this feels,” Greene said. “We’ve worked so hard, waited so long, wanted this so much. I can’t even tell you.”

The win puts the Tro­jans in the state semi­fi­nals for the first time in 20 years — over a year be­fore any­one on the team was born.

Greene, who had been moved from run­ning back to slot re­ceiver and fi­nally to quar­ter­back dur­ing his four-year var­sity ten­ure, fin­ished his team’s tri­umphant run with a flour­ish, rack­ing up 312 yards on 34 car­ries, and com­plet­ing the Tro­jans’ only pass, for 13 yards, giv­ing him a hand in all but 17 yards of Kent County’s to­tal of­fense. De­fen­sively, he had eight tack­les, in­clud­ing two for a loss, both team highs.

For Tro­jans head coach Bren­don Ire­ton, whose squad has lost no fewer than three heart­break­ing games to the Vik­ings in his four-sea­son ten­ure, it was def­i­nitely one for the ages.

“I’ve just got to give credit to the team; these coaches and these play­ers,” Ire­ton said. “This was prob­a­bly one of the best games I’ve ever seen from an in­di­vid­ual player . ... I’m very proud of the way the team fin­ished this out . ... It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’ll prob­a­bly sink in when I walk into the locker room.”

Com­ing out of the locker room to start the con­test, the Tro­jans lost the open­ing toss and the kick­off, an on­side by Tyler Hard­ing that C-SD’s Aaron Collins re­cov­ered at the Tro­jan 49yard line. But the game’s open­ing drive came to less than noth­ing, the hosts los­ing two yards on three rush­ing at­tempts, the last when Greene tack­led Cam­bridge-SD run­ning back Taj Molock for a 3-yard loss on third down to force a punt.

Hard­ing’s punt rolled to the Tro­jan 9, but Greene quashed any con­cern over field po­si­tion by cut­ting left, leap­ing over a div­ing op­po­nent, and run­ning 83 yards for the game’s first touch­down, with 8 min­utes, 28 sec­onds to go in the first quar­ter. C-SD blocked the ex­tra-point try by Don­nie For­gan, leav­ing the score 6-0, Tro­jans.

Greene’s en­su­ing on­side kick squibbed off at an an­gle al­most per­pen­dic­u­lar to its in­tended one, rolling to a stop at the Tro­jans’ 46. On the next snap, Cam­bridge-SD’s Tre’ Lake (28 car­ries, 186 yards) ran it in from there. Hard­ing’s point-af­ter put the Vik­ings up 7-6, with 8:16 still to go on the first-quar­ter clock.

Each team had a cou­ple of chances as the half pro­gressed — a Greene pass to the 1-yard line was dropped on one drive, while a Hard­ing try on the other end was in­ter­cepted by Kent’s Dashawn Lis­ter at the 1-yard line as the half wound down.

“Kent County’s a great, great foot­ball team,” said C-SD head coach Jake Cole­man, a player on the Vik­ings pro­gram that started the 25-game win streak in the late 1990s. “And Mar­c­quan Greene, I’d have to say, is def­i­nitely one of the best ath­letes ever to come out of this con­fer­ence.

“But we made some mis­takes,” Cole­man said. “And in the play­offs, you have to min­i­mize those, you have to keep fo­cus.”

The Tro­jans tried their sec­ond on­side kick — there were a to­tal of six by the teams — to be­gin the sec­ond half. Caught un­aware, the Vik­ings failed to

re­cover, Si­las Phillips giv­ing Kent pos­ses­sion.

Greene’s 3-yard touch­down jaunt capped the en­su­ing six-play drive, putting Kent County up 14-7 fol­low­ing Takai Caulk’s 2-point con­ver­sion scam­per, with 9:35 to go in the third.

The Vik­ings re­sponded quickly. A 16-yard Lake run, fol­lowed by one for 47 by Molock, set up Lake’s 1-yard touch­down run. Down 14-13, C-SD set up for an­other Hard­ing PAT, but the Tro­jans jumped off­sides.

In re­sponse, Hard­ing ran out, Lake came in to take a di­rect snap from the Wild­cat scheme, and the 2-point run that fol­lowed put the hosts up 15-14.

On the fol­low­ing kick­off, Caulk grabbed the ball at his 5-yard line, dashed left and worked his way up­field. Get­ting a block inside the 10, Caulk worked to the 20, and then Patrick Cul­ley laid per­haps the most im­por­tant block of the night on a C-SD de­fender. The hit laid out one de­fender, forced a sec­ond into a bad pur­suit an­gle, and sprung Caulk, who juked right, and ran into the end zone.

“Takai’s been mak­ing plays for us for a cou­ple of years now,” Ire­ton said. “He made a great run, got good blocks, too.”

Caulk’s 95-yard run put the Tro­jans ahead — for good, as events would later prove — at 20-15, though a Greene con­ver­sion run came up about a foot short.

Hav­ing seen the success of his team’s sec­ond on­side kick, Ire­ton called for a third. Kent re­cov­ered again, Jalen Henry grab­bing it near mid­field af­ter a C-SD player bob­bled and lost it. Seven plays and 51 yards later, Greene found the end zone again, his 20yard run, and sub­se­quent 2-point con­ver­sion, mak­ing it 28-15 and bring­ing the 150-odd Kent County fans who made the 90-minute trip to Vik­ing Stadium to their feet.

Ire­ton giv­ing it one last try, Kent County’s fourth on­side kick, how­ever, went much like the first, go­ing four yards and elic­it­ing a flag for il­le­gal pro­ce­dure. Sev­eral snaps later, Lake’s 1-yard run capped a 56yard drive and a Hard­ing PAT pulled the Vik­ings with 28-22 with 4:31 to go in the third.

C-SD came near the Tro­jan red zone on its next pos­ses­sion, but Tre’ Wright tack­led Lake mere inches from a first down on a fourth-and-3 at the 27 to get the ball back on downs.

The next Tro­jan pos­ses­sion, 12 plays long and eat­ing up 46 yards, and half the fourth-quar­ter clock, fi­nally ended when C-SD se­nior Koby Jones picked off a Greene pass at the Vik­ings 10.

But that last gasp of the Vik­ings didn’t yield any­thing on the score­board, a botched snap and hand­off rolling around mid­field be­fore Kent County’s Shakei Fra­zier fell on it with 1:44 to play in the game.

“We thought we had it on that last drive,” Cole­man said. “We thought the old ghosts were go­ing to come back, but we just came up short.”

The Tro­jans killed the re­main­ing clock, Greene’s scam­per on third-and-6 eat­ing just enough time up that they didn’t have to punt — some­thing they didn’t do the whole night.

“It’s tough right now, but, you know, end-of-the-sea­son losses are,” Cole­man said. “Only one 1A team will end the sea­son happy. ... We knew com­ing in that this wouldn’t be a blowout. We knew, af­ter we faced them [in Week 4], and they kind of aban­doned the of­fense they were do­ing ear­lier in the year, and went to this op­tion stuff, it would put us in some sit­u­a­tions where you were darned if you do, and darned if you don’t.

“We had a cou­ple of plays where we thought we had stopped him on fourth down, but he squeezed through and got it,” Cole­man said. “They played bet­ter in the swing of things. A cou­ple of the on­side kicks they used in the sec­ond half were huge . ... I con­grat­u­late them. They’ve taken a cou­ple of hard losses, and there’s no way you can feel they didn’t earn it, be­cause they earned it . ... I wish those guys the best, the rest of the way out.”

Notes: Com­ing into Fri­day’s game, C-SD had won its last 47 straight against 1A teams in the Bay­side Con­fer­ence. C-SD’s last de­feat on the field against a team of its own size cat­e­gory came Nov. 16, 2007, when Snow Hill elim­i­nated the Vik­ings from the 1A East semi­fi­nals, 24-21. C-SD had to for­feit a 35-0, win over Washington on Sept. 11, 2009 due to the use of two un­der­age as­sis­tant coaches . ... Kent County’s last trip to the state fi­nal four ended in a semi­fi­nal loss to C-SD in 1996, its third loss in the Vik­ings’ 25-game win streak . ... Havre de Grace, which de­feated C-SD in the 1A East fi­nal last year, won the North on Fri­day, 1914, over Sur­rattsville. Kent County topped Havre de Grace in the re­gional fi­nals two years ago; a sec­ond meet­ing was pre­vented when Ed­mond­son up­set top-seeded Regi­nald Lewis in the 1A South ti­tle game on Fri­day, earn­ing the third seed in the state fi­nal four and a trip to face the No. 2 War­riors. Fort Hill, as the top seed, hosts the No. 4 team, which would’ve been Ed­mond­son had C-SD won. Fol­low me on Twit­ter: @David_s­tar­dem.‹

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Kent County’s Mar­c­quan Greene splits two Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester de­fend­ers on a 20-yard touch­down run in a 28-22 vic­tory over the Vik­ings to win the 1A East Re­gion Cham­pi­onship on Fri­day.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Kent County’s Takai Caulk is seen af­ter last Fri­day’s Class 1A East Re­gion cham­pi­onship win over Cam­bridge-SD.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Kent County head coach Bren­don Ire­ton, left, con­grat­u­lates Mar­c­quan Greene (1) last Fri­day af­ter the Tro­jans de­feated Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester 28-22 to win the 1A East Re­gion cham­pi­onship.

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