Back in the win column
Hurricanes rebound from tough loss to defeat Cougars
On the heels of its first loss of the season — a demoralizing 31-6 setback at North Point on Sept. 28 — Huntingtown’s football team took the field with a clear objective when it hosted Thomas Stone on Friday night.
“[Huntingtown head coach Paul Friel] wanted us to bounce back and get a strong start,” said Huntingtown’s Josh Stokes. “We went out and executed and did it.”
Stokes scored on a 35-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter to open the game’s scoring and the Hurricanes never looked back, winning their homecoming game 36-7 in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference crossover contest.
“Last week we played a very good football team, but when we watched the film, and nothing to take away from them, we made a lot of little mistakes,” Friel said. “If you do that against good teams like that, it will hurt you. We worked really hard this week to eliminate all that and it showed in a big way. Even when we made some adjustments and personnel changes, the people who came in stepped up. It’s good to have a bunch of kids who are ready to play and fight through adversity.”
Stokes’ touchdown run, which came with 3 minutes 25 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, capped an 85-yard drive in which he carried the ball three times for 84 yards.
Huntingtown (5-1 overall) added to the lead late in the opening half when, after recovering a fumble at the Stone 35-yard line, Trent Connolly reached the end zone on a 26yard rush to extend the lead to 14-0 with 1:12 left before the break.
After Stone (3-3) was unable to earn a first down on the ensuing series, Colin Wargo went the distance on a punt return from near midfield to push the hosts’ advantage to 20-0 just 33.4 seconds before the half.
The Hurricanes’ lead grew to 23-0 on Hunter Bray’s 21-yard field goal late in the third quarter, while Bray tacked on another touchdown midway through the fourth to make the score 29-0.
Trent Gaskins, who rushed for over 180 yards in the contest, finally provided a bright spot for the Cougars on a 65yard touchdown run that broke up Huntingtown’s shutout bid with 6:20 left to play. The Hurricanes tacked on one more score, a 19-yard touchdown connection from Bray to Evan
Lively, to cap the game’s scoring with 3:31 remaining.
Stone, which had endured a tough week prior to Friday night’s matchup, did gain roughly 200 yards of offense against the Hurricanes’ stout defense but struggled to execute at times.
“It’s hard enough to come into a place like Huntingtown and pull off an upset against a very good team in the Hurricanes with no distractions. Unfortunately, when your team is hurting and dealing with a major distraction, you’ve got almost no chance,” said Cougars head coach Danny Ripple, referencing the tragic death of Stone student Elisha Amon Cole on Wednesday night. “With that said, I’m very proud of the way they came in and played [tonight]. They did a good job of hanging in there and making it a game for the better part of the first half.”
Next up for Stone with a trip to La Plata at 7 p.m. Friday versus a Warriors team (1-5) that lost to Patuxent 23-6 in Week 6. Ripple hopes his team will be able to respond in positive fashion. At 3-3 through six weeks, there is little margin for error if the Cougars hope to contend for a playoff spot in the very crowded Class 2A South Region.
“Turnovers, penalties and special teams letdowns tell the story. We committed all three [against Huntingtown],” Ripple said. “We’re not gonna beat the Calverts, Huntingtowns and St. Charles or any other good team as long as we keep letting ourselves down in these three categories. If we are going to turn this thing around, we have to improve in these areas. ... We’re excited to regroup this week and begin preparation for La Plata.”
In rebounding from their Week 5 loss, Huntingtown very nearly pitched its fourth shutout of the year. Aside from the North Point game, the Hurricanes have allowed just 14 points — all 14 coming in the fourth quarter of games that had already been decided.
Entering its Week 7 matchup at home against Great Mills at 7 p.m. Friday versus a Hornets team (1-5) that won its first game of the season over Chopticon 40-16 in Week 6, Huntingtown finds itself in excellent position to make a return to the postseason for the first time since 2014 and perhaps lock down one of the top seeds for the 3A South Region playoff field, though any of that is too far down the road for Friel to consider.
“We just have to get better every week,” the Huntingtown coach said. “We don’t look past anybody.”
Huntingtown’s Josh Stokes carries the ball in the first quarter on the Hurricanes’ 36-7 victory over the visiting Thomas Stone Cougars on Friday night. Stokes scored the game’s first touchdown on a 35-yard run.
Huntingtown’s Colin Wargo makes a move during his punt return for a touchdown late in the first half of the Hurricanes’ 36-7 win over the visiting Thomas Stone Cougars on Friday night.
Thomas Stone’s Cole Lucia runs with the ball with Huntingtown’s Evan Lively in closest pursuit during the teams’ game at Huntingtown on Friday night. The Cougars fell 36-7.
Huntingtown’s Trent Connolly, center, is congratulated by teammates Evan Lively, left, and Josh Stokes after scoring a rushing touchdown in the second quarter of the Hurricanes’ 36-7 win over the visiting Thomas Stone Cougars on Friday night.