Back in the win col­umn

Hur­ri­canes re­bound from tough loss to de­feat Cougars

The Calvert Recorder - - Sports - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com

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.”

PHOTO BY DARNELL MARBURY

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.

PHO­TOS BY DARNELL MARBURY

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.

PHOTO BY DARNELL MARBURY

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.

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